In the 1930's, our founder, Miss M Raymonde-Hawkins MBE purchased a cottage with a small patch of land just outside of Lewes in East Sussex.
A pioneering lady with a deep compassion for all animals, who couldn't tolerate animal cruelty or suffering. She left the education sector in order to set up an animal rescue centre and sanctuary in Sussex.
In 1952 Miss Raymonde-Hawkins established Raystede as an animal charity and made a pledge to provide facilities that were equal to or better than existing animal rescue centres. In the early days the charity was based in her cottage and back garden.
Miss Raymond-Hawkins was an authoritative lady and it was her force of will that allowed Raystede to become what it is today. She was a pragmatist and would do what was required to alleviate animal suffering, including euthanasia when tough decisions needed to be made. Contrary to what many people assume she was not a vegetarian or vegan; indeed she was a pescatarian for much of her life.
Although Miss Raymond-Hawkins was a hero in her own right, she was also able to attract a group of supporters who shared her passion for animals, The friends of Raystede. These were people who cared deeply for animals, just as she did.
Together they promised to fight back against the perpetrators of animal cruelty and to speak for the animals who couldn't speak for themselves.
Miss Raymonde-Hawkins and her friends made it their mission to stand up for animals experiencing neglect, abandonment and abuse.
Our friends were, and continue to be, the real heroes of Raystede. Our supporters are the reason that the charity grew from its humble beginnings to the wonderful site and visitor destination that we have today.
Our supporters have enabled us to grow and to reach more animals in need of help. Today the site has expanded across 43 acres. We care for over 2000 animals a year, rehoming over 1000 animals and providing sanctuary to even more.
Alleviating animal cruelty, rehoming, providing sanctuary for animals in need, and educating people about how to care for animals remains at the heart of everything we do today.
Our work could not continue without our supporters.
"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." ~ Mahatma Gandhi