Marion Eaton – Animal Liberationist

Here is the text of a eulogy that was read at the funeral of legendary animal liberationist and founder of FRIEND animal rescue Marion Eaton. She was buried on the 30th January in the grounds of her beloved animal sanctuary after a service at East Peckham church in Kent.

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Marion was known to many, but I have the deep pleasure to say that I really knew her. She was a complicated, sophisticated and truly remarkable women. To her end she kept the traits of her South London roots – often frank, bluntly honest and never shy to raise uncomfortable truths. Behind this formidable exterior laid a high intellect and a persuasive ability to debate and convince. I remember once, watching a general knowledge TV quiz show with her; being cocky I tried to answer every question and getting a couple right every so often I Thought I was doing well. Marion observed with nonchalance before teaching me a lesson by answering every single question perfectly. She had a habit of reserving her knowledge and wisdom until the opportune moment to impress it upon people.
I remember Marion as an inquisitive and curious person with a genuine interest in the people she met and the world she lived in. She met and knew many wonderful people and always took a deep interest in them, and the diversity and exoticness of their experiences. Showing true empathy and compassion, she always had time for those in need, but cut little slack for those that were self-interested. These characteristics gave her a natural authority and the sanctuary was very much her domain. Visitors knew that, but so too did the animals. I remember a dog who lived here once called Bunny. A beautiful and complex Alsatian who Marion had personally rescued from the most horrendous abuse and emaciation. Being a victim of human wickedness the scars and trauma ran deep with her and understandably she had a little time for people. No one could touch her, she would ignore people and keep a healthy distance, only approaching to bite those she took a dislike to. Apart from Marion. For Bunny adored her and she was the sole person worthy of respect in Bunny’s world. When Marion was not there Bunny would howl with anxiety and pace the room, but in Marion’s presence she was safe and secure.
It goes without saying that Marion had a natural affinity with our non-human relations and a talent to raise and relate to them. I remember late one evening as me and Mark were tired from a days work an unexpected visitor arrived. It was a tiny piglet, perhaps a few weeks old with a severe laceration to its snout, so much in fact that the top part of its face was hanging, ripped wide open. This baby was petrified and let out deep shrieks of terror having gone through a terrible event we can only speculate at, before being dumped in a strange and foreign environment. Both Mark and I were shocked by the situation and useless in responding, but not Marion. Totally unfazed she picked up the poor baby and snuggled her tightly on her lap. After a short time of soothing the piglet had calmed down and relaxed into a deep slumber. This transformation was amazing to watch but for Marion the logic behind it was simple. It was a very natural idea, and one that guides the animal rights movement; that love is transferable and crosses the so-called species barrier. Regardless of whether we walk on two legs or four, or have fur, feather or skin – unconditional love is a common emotion that binds us. By exercising it tranquillity is established.
Motivated by the strongest senses of compassion and righteousness, Marion was a women prone to doing things her way and she gave little concern for the ridicule or the condemnatory glances of nay-sayers. She would challenge authority and wasn’t scared of taking risks on the uncomfortable paths in life. This bravery was echoed by her willingness to put herself out to help others. After the state firmly set the animal rights movement in its sights and many turned their backs and sort their own safety, Marion refused to kneel and opened her sanctuary to those under persecution for their political activity on behalf of the animals. I told her that she, more than most, with the sanctuary and all, had a lot to loose but this did not worry her: “I can’t do much actions, but I have to help the struggle and if others aren’t prepared to, then I will” was her response.
The contradictions of the modern world, complete with its abuses and unfairness weighed heavy on Marion, but rather than succumbing to the pressure like so many, she did what she could, in her own special way, to make the world a better place. And, in this she was incredibly successful. After a life dedicated to the animals, uncountable numbers of them have been rescued and saved from an existence of the worst possible misery. And many people have had their eyes opened and been inspired by the many incredible deeds, acts and efforts of Marion. Sadly she is no longer with us but she has not gone either. What Marion established over her life time of dedication to the animals will live with us always, and the aspiration she had for a better, kinder world will be realised by the coming generations motivated and inspired by what she achieved.
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