High Peak’s groundbreaking badger vaccinator honoured with top animal welfare award

Debbie Bailey collected her awards during a ceremony at the House of Lords.
Debbie Bailey collected her awards during a ceremony at the House of Lords.

A High Peak woman has been recognised with a special award at the House of Lords in honour of her dedication to protecting badgers through vaccination.

Debbie Bailey, who is Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s lead badger vaccinator, received a 2018 Animal Action Award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The awards honour the achievements of outstanding individuals who have made a significant contribution to animal welfare.

Debbie said: “I accepted this award on behalf of our wonderful volunteers who are the backbone of our programme.”

The 51-year-old, from Furness Vale, became passionate about protecting British badgers in 2012 when she began volunteering with The Badger Trust. It inspired her to take a break from her career as an NHS nurse to train as the country’s first female badger vaccinator – funding the training entirely herself.

In 2014, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust invited Debbie to set up her own badger vaccination programme as a volunteer. With the help of just 14 other volunteers, she worked daily to survey setts, lay down food and dig humane traps to vaccinate hundreds of badgers against bovine Tuberculosis (bTB)

The following year, the trust offered Debbie a paid position and under her leadership and unwavering passion, the project has grown to become the country’s most successful badger vaccination programme with more than 100 volunteers and 16 qualified vaccinators. To date, the project has vaccinated over 500 British badgers.

In recognition of the success of Debbie’s work, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has granted the vaccination programme more than £180,000 in funding, over the next four years.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Debbie’s dedication to the protection of British badgers is outstanding and she is a great example of animal welfare in action.”