Remembering our dear colleague, Martin Cooke, who made significant contributions to animal welfare throughout his life

28 November 2019

Our much-loved head of corporate engagement sadly died of cancer on Friday 22 November. We’re remembering him for the great impact he had on the lives of animals and people

Everyone at World Animal Protection is devastated by Martin’s death and will miss him dearly. He was a unique and caring man, a dear colleague, friend, mentor and animal welfare champion.

Martin Cooke - World Animal Protection

Martin (centre) and the corporate engagement team

Throughout his long and varied career, Martin made significant contributions to the promotion and improvement of animal welfare.

He had extensive experience as a veterinarian, worked in large multinational companies and also in the not-for-profit sector.

Martin worked at World Animal Protection for more than six years and achieved so much in his time here.

Martin Cooke - World Animal Protection

Martin talking at a meeting

As head of the global corporate engagement team, Martin helped make huge, often unprecedented changes for animals.

Some of these achievements include:

  • His work in 2013 to secure a global partnership between World Animal Protection and Nestlé – the largest food company in the world – was lauded as "the single largest corporate animal welfare policy change in history". By 2017 Nestlé pledged to only source cage-free eggs globally by 2025, directly impacting the lives of millions of hens for years to come.
  • Developing and expanding the Business Benchmark for Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) with Compassion in World Farming and Chronos Sustainability as the premier global index of corporate performance on farm animal welfare. This led to measurable improvement for billions of farm animals.
  • Establishing partnerships and agreements with companies to develop and implement animal health and welfare principles across supply chains, including KFC in Western Europe, BRF in Brazil, Thai Union and Betagro in Thailand, Abbott Nutrition in India, Bayer Animal Health initially in Latin America, then globally, and IKEA and the Jamie Oliver Group worldwide.
  • Moving major international corporations to join the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI). Including, Thai Union, Tesco, Nestlé and Lidl, and national companies like Waitrose and Marks and Spencer, Satlink, Sea Chill, Bumble Bee Seafoods.
  • And as part of the GGGI, creating the Ghosts Beneath The Waves index of seafood company performance on the issue of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear, which is a major global cause of harm and death to free-living marine wildlife.

Martin wanted to be remembered for the work he did and the huge impact he had on the lives of both animals and people.

Our CEO, Steve McIvor, said:

"On a personal level I am devasted by this news. I recruited him into World Animal Protection back in 2013 to build our corporate engagement team and had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with him in those early days.

"He was a very smart man, who knew how to get big businesses like Nestle to take animal welfare seriously, while retaining a fantastic sense of humour, passion and energy for his work. Above all, he was a true advocate for animals and dear friend, mentor and colleague to all."

Martin Cooke - World Animal Protection

Martin in the office wearing his motorbike gear

Reflecting recently on his work protecting animals, Martin said:

"I have been driven by the desire to make a difference through my actions, to leave things better than I found them if I could. I learnt that to make things better for animals, I had to make things better for people too."

Our love, support and condolences go out to his family.

We’ll miss you, Martin.

"Above all, he was a true advocate for animals and dear friend, mentor and colleague to all."

Tell the world:

LinkedIn