Fiona Oakes is Outreach in Action !
Fiona, 48, hails from Chesterfield in Derbyshire and now lives in Essex where she runs Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary which provides a home for life to around 400 rescued animals, both domestic and ex-farm.
Vegan all her adult life, since the age of 6 years, Fiona is passionate about animals and works incredibly hard to care for all the rescues in her care on her own with her partner Martin’s help at the weekends. Whilst the Sanctuary deals with the symptoms of abuse and exploitation, Fiona has created The Fiona Oakes Foundation to strike at the root cause of what she believes is the biggest single issue facing the world in which we live – sustainability.
At the heart of this issue lays the human diet – the ramifications of which are far reaching and have a huge negative impact on the environment and human health.
Fiona is positioning herself as a role model for the mainstream – the world is littered with fad and celebrity role models with whom the public have no ability to connect as their wealth and in many cases birth right facilitate what is an unachievable lifestyle for the vast majority. Fiona has no privilege; the daughter of a striking minor and whose mother was a nurse, she has had to make her own way in this world. With a debilitating illness during her early teenage years, resulting in the loss of a knee cap it is perhaps with some irony that we now find that 30 years later she holds no less than FOUR Marathon World Records. This coupled with her effective live long vegan diet is absolute proof positive that the body can get all it needs from a plant based lifestyle which will need to become mainstream if we are to salvage the environment as well as bring to an end the suffering, misery and slaughter faced by billions of animals every year.
Fiona holds four marathon course records – The Antarctic Ice Marathon, the Ruska Marathon, The Dartmoor Vale Marathon and the Essex Championship Marathon at Halstead. She has completed over 50 marathons and a personal best of 2 hours 38 minutes.
In 2013 she became the fastest women in the history of the World to run a marathon on all 7 continents in terms of the total number of hours taken. She is also the fastest woman to run a marathon on all 7 Continents Plus the North Pole – both in terms of the aggregate time and the elapsed days – an incredible achievement but made quite extraordinary given her disability.
Fiona is a patron of the Captive Animal Protection Society as well as an honorary patron of the Vegan Society and was invited to the Royal Garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2011 to be presented to The Queen and Prince Philip in respect of her charity work.
Fiona’s animal Sanctuary costs around £10,000 a month to run and is home to 82 horses and 120 pigs as well as numerous other animals at three different sites in Essex. The charity pays no salaries or expenses meaning that 100% of any donations go directly towards the feed costs of the rescues. There are no volunteers either as Fiona does the vast majority of the work alone, making it rather unique in the world of animal sanctuaries.
The Sanctuary, which was founded in 1993, is funded by Fiona’s partner Martin who works for a Bank, her Mother who is retired and has around 300 supporters globally who donate on a monthly basis to help with the costs. The supporter base is still quite small as the sanctuary has no budget for advertising.
Fiona appeared on BBC Breakfast news in April 2013 after she broke the course record at the North Pole Marathon and following her new World Records we are hoping to leverage further publicity for her causes.
Fiona was a nominee for the inspirational woman of the year award hosted by the Daily Mail in 2012 and at this time this did bring a welcome boost to Sanctuary funding.
In 2012 Fiona became the first vegan female to complete the grueling Marathon des Sables which is described as the ‘toughest foot race on the planet’ involving running six consecutive marathons across the Sahara Desert carrying all your food and supplies for the week on your back. With temperatures going over 52 degrees this is not something for the faint hearted. Fiona ran this event again in April 2014 and has been asked to join Team UVU who sponsor Mohamed Ahansal who has won this event 6 years running. Each time Fiona has competed in this event she has forfeited her position in the race to help a fellow competitor in, what she believes to be, the true spirit of such an event – namely, compassion over competition. Most notably, in 2014, she held back in the longest and toughest stage of the race – a double Marathon – in order to help a fellow competitor who was struggling with the after effects of Leukemia and the Chemotherapy drugs he was still taking.
The Fiona Oakes Foundation has been created as a conduit to raise funds from those keen to help Fiona promote her cruelty free lifestyle and to ensure that funds are segregated from those raised to help the rescues at the Sanctuary. Fiona is unique in that she really does walk the walk as well as talk the talk. She is working at both ends of the scale through treating the symptoms via the Sanctuary and striking at the cause through the Foundation. Fiona is invited to talk about her achievements at festivals and most recently spoke at Kensington Town Hall. She has been invited to talk to the students at Cambridge University which is particularly important as the younger generation represent the future and it is vital that they are exposed to the facts before they enter the working world with its preconceptions and misguided views on a plant based lifestyle.
Fiona has a passion for Russia and also operates a small sanctuary just outside Moscow which she founded after visiting the country to compete in the Moscow marathon. Educated at Oxford Fiona was influenced heavily by the writings of T E Lawrence which may go some way to explain her passion for achievement against all the odds and her desire to race across the desert!
Fiona rises at 3:30 a.m. each day to attend to the animals in her care at three sites in Essex she works solidly to complete all the feeding and caring, treatments and medications required before fitting in her daily training which will either be a 20 mile run or speed work on the treadmill. Following this Fiona will start again with the afternoon and evening care of the animals. Eating just one meal a day each evening her favourite foods are roasted vegetables and her absolute favourite are Brussell Sprouts!
Fiona lives at Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary with her partner Martin and the Sanctuary mascot Percy Bear who has a large online following.