Fiona Oakes was born in the United Kingdom in Chesterfield. She was an animal advocate and caretaker from the start and doesn't ever remember eating meat. She has been vegan for over 20 years. She was also a natural athlete from a young age, playing hockey for her county's junior team and was an avid cyclist. Disaster hit early in her athletic career when she developed a tumor on her right knee joint. In the end, the whole knee joint had to be replaced and the knee cap removed. She recovered from the treatments and went on to college in Oxford. From there she worked in London in City Banking. During the time she was in Oxford, she pursued her athletic goals through cycling and rowing. She raced all over the world in women's cycling events on the track and road.
An active animal rescuer, Fiona soon found that she had too many animals to look after on her rented land, so she bought what is now Towerhill Stables Animal Sanctuary. Today, Fiona single-handedly cares for over 260 animals including 26 horses, 5 cows, 25 goats, 27 pigs, 50 cats, 11 dogs and a whole menagerie of birds including turkeys, peacocks, chickens, ducks and many other smaller animals.
Running the animal sanctuary began to take more and more of Fiona's time, so she gave up her cycling career. The training required to compete at her level simply took too much from her day. She decided to take up running in an effort to keep fit. However, after a few months of doing so, Fiona's competitive instincts took over and she decided to enter a race. That race was the Moscow Marathon. Fiona heard that since the falling of the Communist regime, the appalling conditions for stray cats and dogs in Moscow had worsened. Running in Moscow gave Fiona an opportunity to see for herself what the conditions actually were. Needless to say, when she saw the state of things, she vowed to do something about it. Fiona now funds the care of 50 stray cats and dogs who are taken in and cared for by her two elderly friends Elena Lonshakova and Iraida Zaitseva. Fiona is also very active in Russia with the animal rights group VITA.
Fiona has participated in many running events since the Moscow Marathon and in 2004, decided to enter the prestigious London Marathon. She ran the race with an incredible time of 2 hours 59 minutes! She went on that year to race in Florence, winning 5th place with a time of 2 hours 50 minutes. In 2005, Fiona placed a very respectable 25th at the London Marathon with a time of 2 hours and 49 minutes! Congratulations, Fiona from your fellow members of Team IDA!
"I have been vegetarian since before I can remember and Vegan for the past 20 or so years. I like to encourage people to think about veganism in a positive way. I try to break down stereotypes and myths attached to veganism by my actions. I am one of only 800 female fire-fighters in the UK - a job which people don't expect to see a female doing, let alone a vegan one. I run endurance events, a thing which people don't think you can do if you are a 'weak vegan'. More to the point, I win a lot of my races which provides and excellent forum to hand out leaflets and encourage others to follow."
- Fiona Oakes
"During the London Marathon, the streets were lined with up to 1 million people, many of whom were cheering, "Come on vegan!" as I ran past. As you can see from the photos, I was running alone for most of the race and I could clearly hear people saying, "She's a vegan." Even coming up the Mall, the crowds were 8 people deep and the loudspeaker was shouting, "Come on vegan!" for the whole of crowds to hear. It was great to hear people scream, "Go on vegan" in such a positive way."
- Fiona Oakes