‘It’s fresh, innovative and ground-breaking’ – Hitchin-based charity’s rebranding as Animal Free Research UK

Lara Fuller, Karen Sears, Beth Lloyd and Gerry Reilly from Animal Free Research UK demonstrate the n

Lara Fuller, Karen Sears, Beth Lloyd and Gerry Reilly from Animal Free Research UK demonstrate the name change outside the vegan charity shop in Hitchin's Churchyard. Picture: Animal Free Research UK - Credit: Archant

This week marks a ‘ground-breaking’ moment in the history of a Hitchin-based charity, which on Monday announced its new name.

The Dr Hadwen Trust, which is based in Hitchin, has changed its name to Animal Free Research UK.

The Dr Hadwen Trust, which is based in Hitchin, has changed its name to Animal Free Research UK. - Credit: Archant

The Dr Hadwen Trust, as it has been known for 46 years, has now become Animal Free Research UK – with the name change to coincide with the launch of a new website.

As part of the rebrand, the charity consulted more than 1,000 people from the full-breadth of its stakeholders, confirming the suspicion that the name Dr Hadwen Trust was a barrier to reaching a wider audience.

Unlike the new name, it doesn’t explain what the charity stands for, and instead raised questions about who Dr Hadwen was.

To answer that, Dr Hadwen was quite simply a man ahead of his time – a vegetarian in 1875, and someone who went on to campaign against experimentation on animals while working as a medical professional.

Professor Geoffrey Pilkington, who has led research backed by Animal Free Research UK into brain tum

Professor Geoffrey Pilkington, who has led research backed by Animal Free Research UK into brain tumour treatments, with charity patron and Downton Abbey star Peter Egan. - Credit: Archant


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That aim remains integral to the charity, which has its offices in Portmill Lane and a vegan charity shop in nearby Churchyard, and supporters and scientists believe the rebrand will help Animal Free Research UK grow.

But the Dr Hadwen Trust as a name will not disappear entirely, with Animal Free Research UK used as the working name and the charity number and company numbers remaining the same.

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Animal Free Research UK’s development director, Emma Wrafter, said: “We are really excited about the new name and brand. It’s fresh, innovative and ground-breaking – just like the work we’re doing to replace animals in medical research.

“The name immediately explains what the charity does – animal free research – research which has the ambitious mission to replace the four million animals that are used in medical experiments each year in the UK. The charity’s focus remains on funding evidence led, robust, ethical and proven replacement methods.

“We have been incredibly fortunate to receive pro bono services from branding agency Spencer Du Bois, and a generous grant to off-set the majority of the costs of the rebrand and website development.

“The costs have been minimal and we fully expect that the rebrand will pay for itself in a matter of months.”

While the name change is a historic moment for the charity as a whole, Lara Fuller has been on quite a journey since she began volunteering at the vegan charity shop in Churchyard a little over 12 months ago.

The 48-year-old, who lives in Hitchin, has a background in education and most recently has been lecturing at the University of Hertfordshire.

Hearing about the charity through a friend she began to volunteer, and is now the shop’s manager.

“One of the reasons that I am so excited about the change of name to Animal Free Research UK is that it immediately informs people about what we do and helps them make an instant connection,” she said.

“When I first heard the name ‘Dr Hadwen Trust’ I wasn’t really clear until I visited the shop what the charity did.

“I have been given an unbelievable opportunity to build on the great work of the previous manager who did an outstanding job in opening the shop which, of course, is unique in being a vegan charity shop. The change of name can only help in communicating what great work people are supporting when they shop at 16 Churchyard.”

Development director Emma said: “Lara is the fourth volunteer we have had who has gone on to full time employment as a result of volunteering in our shop.

“We are proud that helping people into work has been an additional benefit from opening our shops. We are so reliant on the generosity of all our volunteers and the time they give us.

“We are particularly proud of Lara and her journey to shop manager.”

Emma is also keen to stress the value placed on community engagement for Animal Free Research UK which, in addition to providing volunteering and employment opportunities, promotes other charities and good causes in the window of the Hitchin shop.

Causes to benefit from the exposure include the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance, Hitchin Round Table and Cruelty Free International’s ‘Leaping Bunny’ programme.

Emma added: “We are keen to give something back, not least because we have been overwhelmed by the support our shop has received from the community in donating goods. We are very grateful to the people of Hitchin and the surrounding area.”

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