Andrew Blake, the founder of Seriously Ill for Medical Research and a tireless advocate for animal research, died this month at the age of 39.
As a teenager Blake was diagnosed with Friedrich’s ataxia — a genetic disease that affects about 1 out of every 50,000 Europeans and kills most of its sufferers in early adulthood. By the time he was 17, Blake was in a wheelchair.
In 1990, Blake was appalled after animal rights terrorists planted bombs in an attempt to kill medical researcher Max Headly and veterinarian Margaret Baskerville. After learning there was no organization dedicated to defending medical research with animals, Blake started Seriously Ill for Medical Research.
The Independent (London) newspaper talked about the nasty hate mail Blake received from compassionate animal rights activists,
He would shock journalists by showing them the hate mail he received. “I hope you die in agony, you cripple” was a typical message. He was unfazed by it. Activists also pasted libelous posters about Blake in the village where he lived.
Seriously Ill for Medical Research will continue on. As Vicky Cowell, chair of SIMR, wrote last week,
The greatest tribute SIMR, and its vast array of Members and Friends, can pay Andrew is to continue his legacy. You can be assured that everyone involved in the day-to-day running of the organization will be doing their utmost to ensure this happens. Over the years the organization, that was once Andrew’s dream, has gone from strength to strength. Eleven years on, SIMR is a force to be reckoned with. It will continue to grow and to gain momentum. Some dreams do come true!
Obituary: Andrew Blake; Tireless Campaigner for Medical Research. Caroline Richmond, The Independent (London), May 29, 2002.
ANDREW BLAKE – 22.3.63 – 24.5.02. Vicky Cowell, Seriously Ill for Medical Research, May 25, 2002.