Wildlife campaigner Lorraine Platt on her perfect Surrey weekend

Lorraine and Charlie get ready to set off on one of their regular rides

Lorraine and Charlie get ready to set off on one of their regular rides - Credit: N/A

A well-known wildlife campaigner, Lorraine Platt was shortlisted as a finalist in the Inspiration Awards For Women 2013, for which the nominees included Helen Mirren and Victoria Beckham. Away from the campaigning trail, she can often be seen riding along the Thames Towpath, with her dog Charlie tucked in her cycle basket…

I adore living in Thames Ditton where we have been based for over 20 years. We brought up our two children here and it’s a perfect place to live – and yet we can be in central London in 35 minutes by train.

Our weekend often starts on Friday evening with a relaxing drink at one of the old pubs in our village. A favourite is Ye Old Swan, a 14th century low-ceilinged pub on the river. Another pub we often visit is The Albany, which has a wooden jetty right on the Thames with magnificent views opposite the riverbank to Hampton Court Palace.

Thames Ditton is quaintly called the ‘village’ by the residents and has retained its appealing high street of individual little shops. One of our favourites is Stitchery, which sells lovely handmade chocolates. The Secret Garden shop sells beautiful flowers, which often feature in my paintings – exhibited with the Hay Hill Gallery in Mayfair.

Trips to the park

Saturday often includes a morning cycle ride in Home Park, which extends from the back of Hampton Court Palace, to see the wild deer amidst the old oak and lime trees. It’s a joy to watch the stag herds and reminds me of our purpose in the voluntary wildlife campaign we founded in 2010 to protect stags, foxes and hares from a return of hunting with dogs.

We started our campaign, Blue Fox, to encourage Conservative MPs to vote to keep the ban in place when the free vote on repeal of the hunting ban is offered. We have organised several Parliamentary events, which have been well attended by the Conservative anti-hunting MPs in the House of Commons and reported on national TV and newspapers.

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We also founded the Blue Hare campaign, which pioneers to introduce a closed season for hares, whose vulnerable populations have declined by an estimated 80 per cent in the last 100 years.

Our Blue Badger campaign is against the badger culls, which the overwhelming scientific evidence says will not solve the problem of TB in cattle.

I was delighted to be awarded the Campaigner Winner Award 2012 by the International Fund For Animal Welfare, which took place in the House of Lords with Brian May of Queen. More recently, I was shortlisted as a finalist for the Inspiration Awards For Women 2013, for which the nominees also included Helen Mirren and Victoria Beckham.

Back to my weekend, though, and those cycle rides. I have a special dog basket on my bike where our King Charles Cavalier sits on a blue tartan cushion. It has a protective white metal cover over the wicker basket. Riding along the Thames Towpath with Charlie never fails to raise smiles! When we get to the park or towpath, Charlie is lifted out and has his walk for the rest of the way.

We enjoy being in the royal market town of Kingston on Sundays for some clothes shopping and a leisurely coffee and cakes in the market square. Watching the boats In the evening, with family and friends, we like to pop into The Albany pub and watch the boats pass by. I look out for the local grand blue and white steamer boat with its pipe chimneys and waterwheel, which looks like it should belong in New Orleans on the Mississippi river of a bygone era!

I love living in beautiful Surrey and couldn’t imagine ever wanting to live anywhere else.


For more information on Lorraine’s wildlife campaigns, visit thebluefoxgroup.co.uk