7 December 2013 by Peter Warzynski
A poet has joined forces with Queen guitarist Brian May to fight the Government’s plans to cull the country’s badgers.
Richard Bonfield, 54, from Wigston, wrote the poem, The Badger, after being approached by actress and founder of the Born Free Foundation, Virginia McKenna. She asked him to compose the verse for Brian May, a strong opponent of plans to kill thousands of badgers, in order to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis. The wildlife campaigner then presented the piece to her friend, Brian, as an early Christmas present.
The poem was filmed at Brian’s recording studio at his home in West Sussex and uploaded to YouTube – amassing more than 3,700 views so far – and the Save-Me.org.uk website, which is dedicated to fighting the cull.
The rocker also composed a simple backing track for the poem.
Speaking to the Mercury yesterday, Brian said: “The poem is all part of our fight. Awareness is the key and if it raises some interest and gets people’s attention focused on stopping the killing of badgers then it’s achieved its goal.”
Richard said it took about a month to write, and he was inspired by a wildlife book by Chris Ferris, called The Darkness is Light Enough.
“It’s a wonderful book,” he said. “It really opened my eyes to what was going on in the British countryside. It makes me feel very proud to be part of the fight against the cull. I’ve always wanted to be in the position to help the natural world.”
Brian said: “I was very moved when I read it. I thought it was lovely and then when I heard Virginia reciting the poem, it took on a whole new meaning for me. As soon as she did her first take, I was choked up.”
The Save Me campaign is aiming to raise £2 million to pay for vaccines for the country’s badger population, rather than allowing the Government to carry out a mass cull.
Brian has vigorously campaigned against proposals to euthanise a small section of the UK’s badgers and earlier this year managed to get more than 300,000 signatures in opposition of the plans.
He said: “Animals have a value in themselves, but people seem to think along the lines of what use are they to me, or how can they make me money? I’m aghast they’ve got away with it for so long and this is our attempt to find a valuable alternative. We need to raise the money in order to be able to pay for the vaccines and raise awareness of what’s going on.”
The Badger by Richard Bonfield