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In Remembrance of Jill Phipps

February 2009

FLORAL tributes have been laid in memory of a Coventry animal rights activist who died after she was crushed by a lorry at Coventry Airport 14 years ago.

Jill Phipps was run over on February 1, 1995 while protesting against the live export of calves being flown out from Baginton airport.

She was just 31 and left a nine-year-old son Luke.

Yesterday Janet Cummings and Pam Frayson from Rugby visited the spot where she died as they have done every anniversary.

The two animal rights campaigners say it is important Jill's commitment to animals is never forgotten.


full story:

In Remembrance of Jill Phipps
15 January 1964 -- 1 February 1995

In a lifetime of advocacy for animals there are very few events that are truly life changing. As one gets exposed to the various worldwide causes, one gets rather jaded and immune to a lot of suffering that one sees through the years. It takes a very special event to stop the clock in a life of seeing more animal suffering in a few months than the general public sees in a lifetime. This happened to me when I read of the death of Jill Phipps.

Normally, a human death means little to me, unless it is a young child. In general, I feel humans usually deserve whatever happens to them especially if it is a senseless death as humans generally have the intellectual capacity to avoid most risky situations if they only think first, whereas most animal deaths that are not natural, generally can be blamed on Man. So I save my mourning for the animals. But Jill's death was VERY different, it was noble and it was heroic.

Most of you probably have never heard of her. As with most heroes, Jill worked quietly, not looking for recognition, simply doing a job she felt needed to be done. Jill was protesting the transportation of veal calves, who's all too short lives are spent in a crate too small to turn around in, too small to exercise in, on purpose. The purpose being that their meat will be tender, without tough muscle tissue. They are fed a high protein liquid diet to keep the meat pink and tender. They are often anemic, too weak to stand, and are always, somewhat mercifully, killed before they reach maturity to meet the demand for the ever popular veal. Truly the ultimate sacrifice for selfish human consumption. Like others, with similar compassion, Jill wanted this all to end.

She was much like any other Animal Rights Activist trying to stop the calves from being transported to their crates that day. As her friend Pam Brown recalled,

"The Tuesday before that awful day, about 45 people spent a really dreadful night at the airport gates, in pouring rain. We were trying to stop Jolley sneaking lorries into the airport, as the night before. I remember sitting in my camper with Jill and a lovely guy called Trog. We chatted a bit, dozed off a bit and were very cold, but it was worth it - no lorries went in.

We went home about 6.30am and I returned with Trog and an Alsatian called Argo. Jill loved him and he really was and is very handsome, and had loads of fuss from us. Jill arrived about 3.20pm looking refreshed and we again sat in my camper van. The plane had landed, but we sat relaxed in my van stroking Argo, chatting and talking about the demo. Our policy was to try and stop the lorry by chains and padlocks, which we had in readiness for the lorry's arrival. We knew the operation was in jeopardy because of delays, and knew the scummy farmers were looking for alternative ways of continuing their sick trade. Jill, Trog and myself positioned ourselves next to the gate and at around 4.20pm approximately 50 cops created a cordon across the road. Jill, Trog and myself made our way through the cordon and joined some gathered along Rowley Road. There were now about 90 cops in action that day to help guide the lorry into the gates. As the lorry approached, I looked at Jill and we smiled at each other. We knew Trog was out of sight, and knew we were going to hold up the lorry. Jill and I had decided to go for something to eat afterwards because we were both very hungry. That was the last I saw of Jill - her huge smile!! Memories are all I have left."

Jill's death was not a pleasant one. Animal Friends Croatia, who shared Jill's story with me, recalled, "On 1 February 1995 she was killed under the wheels of a truck when she tried, flailing her arms, to prevent it from taking veal calves into certain death from an airport in Coventry (Baginton). The truck driver didn't share her opinion, so he took to death not only the veal calves but also Jill Phipps."

Jill was a mother who saw her duty to her son and the next generation as a protector of the voiceless. She was a campaigner against "vivisection, environmental destruction, hunting, zoos, circuses, homelessness, the meat and dairy industries, in fact anything that caused needless suffering and misery." Jill Phipps was truly a selfless individual.

On Jill's memorial page, a tribute reads, "Jill's peaceful protests took many forms, from providing a home to a stray dog, to handing out leaflets, to sabbing a hunt, to standing in front of a lorry load of young calves destined for a short hellish life in veal crates** . When Jill stood in front of the lorry that killed her, she understood the risks but typically for her she assumed that the police and the lorry driver would respect life as much as she did, unfortunately this was not true and in the end Jill gave her life for her beliefs and for others who could not defend themselves - this is the greatest act of bravery that is possible by a human being. Jill is not a martyr, she is a hero and her actions will inspire and give courage to everyone who knew her and to many thousands of people who never met her. Jill`s bravery and compassion will go down in history and she will never be forgotten." (** Storey's Guide to Raising Beef Cattle --definitely NOT an Animal Right's publication, defines; "Veal is meat from very young calves -- only a few weeks old. It's obtained from dairy calves raised in confinement and fed milk or milk replacers. Beef calves, on the other hand, are raised by their own mothers and usually not butchered for meat until they are yearlings or older." --Ed.)

The tribute goes on, "Examine your heart and conscience, if you eat meat - stop! If you care for the veal calves - think about where they come from (the by-products of the dairy industry) and act accordingly, don't use products that were tested on animals, don't go hunting or fishing, don't support zoos or circuses - in fact look at every aspect of your life and think about how it effects other people, animals and the environment - live a compassionate life in tribute to Jill and because it is the right thing to do. Jill's death has begun to wake people up to the reality of the suffering our society is based on."

It did just that for me. Jill's sad and violent end has caused a rebirth of values in my life. In considering an individual's contribution to making the world a better place for all, a human life lost is a small price to pay as millions of animals die for us, everyone of us, in the daily obscurity of service to man. Yet the irony of the cause Jill was fighting for, the very magnitude of the unfeeling cruelty of veal production, acted in counterpoint to highlight the supreme devotion of Jill's last act of protection, and the unfeeling certainty of her brutal end. I was stunned by the overwhelming symbolism of the circumstances as hers was an accurate model of what it SHOULD mean to be an ethical human being to which we should all aspire. . .

I thought long and hard about the life that ended too soon, and the veal calves who, in their fearfully short lives, still would know nothing of her sense that their life was valuable also. . .
I have decided to become a vegetarian, and will remain one as long as Jill's memory survives in my heart. It is the least I can do for one who made the ultimate sacrifice for the animals we all cherish.


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