Vegetarian farmer who gave away herd hopes for Bafta success

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image copyrightJay Wilde
image captionJay Wilde said Alex Lockwood's film "got the most emotional response" when the films were shown at a Bafta screening

A farmer who sent his cows to an animal sanctuary instead of to slaughter hopes the film of their rescue resonates with the cream of British cinema.

Jay Wilde, from Ashbourne, Derbyshire, hit the headlines after handing his beef herd to a Norfolk rescue centre.

A documentary by Alex Lockwood, 73 Cows, telling Mr Wilde's story has been nominated for best short film at Sunday's Bafta awards.

Mr Wilde, said he hoped the "moving" finished product would win the prize.

image copyrightJay Wilde
image captionJay Wilde gave his herd to a sanctuary to spare them "a terrifying death" at the slaughterhouse

The film - which covers Mr Wilde's struggles with his conscience and the beef farming industry - made its premiere at the Raindance Film Festival, and won the grand prize at the 2018 Ottawa International Vegan Film Festival.

Mr Wilde said he had expected another routine interview when Mr Lockwood approached him, and after "an awful lot of work" he said he was very happy with the final product.

"I saw it at the Raindance festival last year for the first time, and it's the first time I've been forced to watch myself on screen," he said.

"I can see how other people will find it moving - Alex has done a wonderful job."

image captionThe cows are now being cared for by Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk

Despite taking centre stage on the silver screen, Mr Wilde said he would not be attending Sunday's ceremony, adding: "I think it's a place for VIPs."

But he hoped Mr Lockwood would emerge victorious.

"This will certainly put him on the map," he said.

"I think being nominated is very prestigious, it doesn't matter whether you win or not, just being there is quite a deal.

"Alex has done a fantastic job, but I certainly don't feel like Bafta material."

As for the rescued cows, Mr Wilde said they were enjoying their new life at Hillside Animal Sanctuary near Frettenham, though he has only been able to visit them once.

A vegetarian for more than 25 years, he grew up herding cows and took over the family farm when his father died.

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