Obituary: Dorothy Hegarty

Dorothy Roberts, charity campaigner: born Shanghai 1910;married 1934 Jack Hegarty (two sons); died Edinburgh 28 August 1995.

In the past quarter-century, the public in Britain has become increasingly concerned about eliminating the need to use animals in laboratory experiments. One who did much to help bring about that change was Dorothy Hegarty, the co-founder of Frame (the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments).

In the 1960s, then a housewife living in Wimbledon, south London, Hegarty recognised that the bitter conflict between those who accepted and those who totally opposed the use of laboratory animals was not advancing either cause, and that the way forward must lie in the replacement of animals by scientifically valid alternative methods. The fact that, during the past 20 years, the number of scientific procedures carried out on living animals in Britain has been reduced from 5.75 million per year to less than 3 million - and is now decreasing by an average 100,000 procedures per year - is the product of a number of factors, but the agitation started by Dorothy Hegarty has played an important part. Frame today is a leading registered charity, with an international reputation, rightly respected by Government, industry and academia.

Dorothy Roberts was born in Shanghai in 1910, and spent a privileged youth enjoying the social round of the British colony. She admitted to a childhood of indulgence and being accustomed to having her own way. She married Jack Hegarty, a representative of Pinchin Johnson Associates in 1934, and in 1937 the whole family moved to Hong Kong, to escape the Japanese invasion and inevitable internment. The following year the Hegartys came to England and set up home in Wimbledon, raising two sons.

When the boys left home, Dorothy had time on her hands. A vegetarian and devoted lover of animals, she became increasingly upset at the thought of animal experimentation and factory farming, which she saw as related. A woman of great determination and singlemindedness, she found the arguments of the anti-vivisection societies too simplistic and unlikely to achieve their purpose, so she initiated her own campaign to encourage the replacement of laboratory animals with the alternative non-animal methods, including tissue culture and computer simulation studies.

In 1959, Frame was founded as a registered charity, with Dorothy Hegarty, her son Terry, a scientist, Diana Gardner, a writer, and Charles Foister, as founder trustees. The acquisition of Foister as a trustee was invaluable. He had recently retired from the Scottish Office, where he had been Director of Agricultural Scientific Services.

The initial years were spent in drumming up support, writing to influential people in government, Parliament, industry and the Church. A regular bulletin of abstracts from scientific journals was also published. An office was rented in Raynes Park and a staff, headed by a scientist, installed. Through Dorothy Hegarty's drive, progress was made, although life at Raynes Park was not always calm. Woe betide any staff member who made an error. Letters were often re-drafted a dozen times, so the turnover of secretaries was well above average.

In 1979, Dorothy and Jack Hegarty retired and Michael Balls, of Nottingham University, became chairman of the trustees, moving the Frame headquarters to Nottingham and instituting the Frame Alternatives Laboratory at the Queen's Medical Centre, at Nottingham.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor