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The future normal

Five honoured at the Vegan Society’s first ever Future Normal Hero Awards
The future normal

Ashwin Ahuja, who saved the life of a young bull named Rufus during the Covid-19 pandemic, has been honoured with the Animal Champion Award at The Vegan Society’s first official Future Normal Hero Awards.

The awards celebrate those in the community who have gone above and beyond for animals.

Due to social distancing guidelines the award was presented virtually by Dale Vince, Ecotricity CEO and chairman of Forest Green Rovers Football Club, on the inaugural Future Normal Day (09 April).

University student Ashwin was recognised for his relationship with Rufus, which began when Ashwin started taking daily walks through Cambridge during the first national lockdown.

After befriending and forming a friendship with Rufus, Ashwin was desperate to save his life. With help from his mum, Ashwin bought Rufus from the farmer and reached out to Goodheart Animal Sanctuary in Shropshire, who took him in.

‘I am absolutely thrilled to be an Animal Champion for this year’s Future Normal Hero Awards. This is all because of Rufus – he’s the real star of the show. I genuinely believe my daily walks to visit him got me through the tough first lockdown.

‘And as our friendship started to grow it was unbearable to think of him being sent to a slaughterhouse and I knew I had to save him. I’m so grateful for the team at GoodHeart Sanctuary for giving him a forever home.’

Winner of the Animal Champion Award

Awards for heroes

Ashwin was one of five heroes celebrated during the ceremony.

Jay and Katja Wilde, the Derby farmers who gave away 73 of their cows, were presented with Animal Champion awards by vegan MP Kerry McCarthy.

Line of Duty actor Paul Higgins presented Hillside Sanctuary – the sanctuary in Norwich that agreed to adopt Jay and Katja’s cows – with a Sanctuary Saviours award.

Manchester’s Laura Chepner – founder of Primary Vegucation, which promotes vegan inclusion within schools – was presented with the Changemaker accolade by vegan writer, poet, musician and activist Benjamin Zephaniah.


‘Future Normal Day was created to get people thinking beyond the post-lockdown ‘new normal’ and to ask themselves how we want our relationship and attitude towards animals to be.

‘All our winners are living proof of the kindness, compassion, and respect that animals need from us and we felt it was really important to thank them with these awards. It was also amazing to see that the celebrity presenters were so happy to give up their time to honour these people in our community.’

Spokesperson for Future Normal Hero Awards

Inspirational Animal award

The final award of the day, Inspirational Animal, was presented to Luca the lamb.

Luca, who was born on Valentine’s Day this year but soon abandoned, was rescued by staff at Pear Tree Farm Animal Sanctuary in Somerset and now helps with interactive online classes, teaching young children the importance of treating all animals with kindness.

Luca’s award was presented by Alex Lockwood, BAFTA-winning director of 73 Cows.

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