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yam yam View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Yak (UK): Prog, Veganism & Animal Rescue
    Posted: October 16 2016 at 23:17
No, we're not talking here about the large hairy creatures that are found primarily in Northern Tibet, or the company Yak UK, which supplies Russian WWII fighter aircraft originally produced by the A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau into Great Britain - all fully overhauled and ready for general aviation use - but a 4 piece instrumental progressive rock band who originally played in the Essex area of the UK between 1982 & 1984, and were brought back from the grave in February 2004 by the band's keyboard player Martin Morgan, with the release of a collection of some old Yak tracks, re-worked and re-recorded painstakingly by himself entirely on his home workstation - plus a couple of newly-written ones - as the "Dark Side of the Duck" album. 

The full story of the early years of the band, and details of the music that has been produced by the re-activated Yak band more recently, which a good many progarchives users have so thoroughly enjoyed, can be read in an excellent interview conducted with Martin by toroddfuglesteg back in May of 2011 here: http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=78286, but the main purpose of this post is to highlight the other side to Martin and the music of Yak that is perhaps not so widely known about.

Martin mentions towards the end of that interview that besides having a full time job, a lot of his time is taken up with the animals he has at home Ė now in excess of 400 of them - and all of them being rescued from almost certain death, which includes around 60 horses and 70 pigs...not to mention 30 or so dogs, all of which live with him and his partner Fiona in the house that they share together!!



The 'house' in this instance is actually Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary, a cause which was started off by Martin's partner Fiona Oakes in the early nineties, initially from just a normal house. However, the operation soon outgrew the facilities that could be provided from just a normal house, and in 1996 Fiona quit her job, the couple sold everything they had, and they bought the sanctuary, where they now live and are able to care for all the animals in a much more appropriate environment, allowing these previously abused and mistreated creatures to enjoy a happy and safe final few years of their lives. The sanctuary is not a business, there are no staff or volunteers, and Martin and Fiona donít earn anything out of it, in fact itís quite the opposite as they have to find over £8,000 a month just to cover the feed costs - let alone vets bills - so I hope you can appreciate that the financial strain that this operation places on them is huge. Here is the original video that Martin made about the sanctuary, accompanied by the outstanding title track of the 2008 Yak album 'Journey Of The Yak':



All the animals are saved from slaughter & are looked after until they pass on or have to be put to sleep due to issues of health & well-being. The facilities available have since been expanded to include four satellite sites for grazing as well as the main sanctuary site itself.



Martin doesnít earn anywhere near enough from his full-time job to fund the entire cost of the operation, so they are always looking for fund raising opportunities - thus the proceeds from every Yak CD sale goes to the sanctuary - none of the music is sold for personal gain, it's just to raise money for the charity. Martin pays for the postage & materials himself, so that 100% of the money that is donated for a Yak album goes directly to the charity. The actual supporter base is still quite small, as the sanctuary has no budget for advertising - and has even FALLEN by around 3% from the peak it reached a few years ago. Cry

If all this wasn't incredible enough, Martin's partner Fiona, as well as looking after all the animals, is also a marathon runner with a personal best of 2 hours 38 minutes, an achievement putting her in the top 10 of all UK female runners, which is quite incredible considering all the animal work she does, and the fact that at 14 years old she was struck down with a horrendous condition in her knee which resulted in a knee replacement and the loss of one knee cap, not to mention the severe damage caused to the other by the years she spent on crutches. She also loves music, and plays bass (when she has a spare moment!)



Both Martin and Fiona are vegans, Fiona having been so since the age of six, and often being referred to as 'The Queen of the Extreme'.  She has completed over 50 marathons, and began taking veganism to the ends of the Earth when, in 2012, she became the first lifelong female vegan to complete the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert - the toughest foot race on the planet, consisting of 153 miles across the Sahara run over 6 days - one race stage being 50 miles long - and all done whilst carrying your food & equipment with you in temperatures up to 50 C...and she did it with two fractured toes! The following year she completed marathons at the North Pole and South Pole, and carried on from this to become officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the fastest woman to run a marathon on all 7 continents in aggregate time, as well as the fastest woman to run a marathon on all 7 continents PLUS the North Pole in both aggregate and elapsed time (days). She has won a total of 11 marathons, holds five course records, three World records, and has now completed the Marathon des Sables twice. She runs purely to generate funds for the animals, and to offer positive proof to those who refuse to believe that a long term, plant based diet is in no way prohibitive to sporting excellence and achievement. Everything she does is driven by her passionate love of animals, and her desire to encourage others to follow a cruelty free path in their lives.



Fiona does all the sanctuary work alone, with Martin's help at the weekends and at other times when he is not at work - plus the support of her mother Meg, who lives with them, and is an excellent cook! This is NOT what Fiona does for a living - she is actually a retained Fire-Fighter on top of everything else that she does! She and Martin have not had a holiday, or even a meal out together in 20 years, and she has never had a 'take-away' of any kind! Another major consequence of running the sanctuary is that she has had to stop competing in her main sport, which used to be cycling.

Fiona is also a patron of Captive Animals' Protection Society, a sports ambassador for In Defense of Animals in the US, and a founder member of VITA, the only real animal welfare/rights group in Russia. In 2012 she was made an honorary patron of the Vegan society.



As a result of her amazing achievements, Fiona was filmed at the sanctuary earlier this year to appear in a film due early next year called 'The Game Changers', which will introduce the world to elite athletes, special ops soldiers, visionary scientists, cultural icons, and everyday heroes - each on a mission to create a seismic shift in the way we eat and live. It is being directed by Louie Psihoyos, produced by James Wilks, with acclaimed filmmaker, deep-sea explorer, and inventor James Cameron as Executive Producer: http://gamechangersmovie.com/



She has also set up The Fiona Oakes Foundation, which has been created as a conduit to raise funds from those keen to help Fiona promote her cruelty free lifestyle, and to ensure that funds are segregated from those raised to help the rescued animals at the sanctuary.

So why am I posting all this here? - I first came into contact with Martin back in July 2011, after 'liking' the Yaktunes facebook page, and bought the back catalogue of the band's CDs, plus the second ever Yak mug to come off the (incredibly busy) production line, as my small contribution to his cause...then I lost touch until I saw a post on the Yaktunes page back in July of this year to the effect that a secret stash of 6 more mugs had been discovered.  I confirmed in a comment that mine was still working perfectly after almost 5 years of hard graft transporting countless gallons of tea from the teapot to my ever-ready stomach! I then learned a lot more about the full scope of the work that the sanctuary does, and how increasingly difficult it is becoming to raise enough funds to support the operation. The problem was REALLY brought home to me by the case of Stanley, a pig advertised on the Preloved website as being "ready to kill". Stanley was subsequently rescued and taken to live at Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary after the furor it caused on the internet was such that the man who was selling him got 20,000 views on his advert.



However, once he was purchased & brought back to the sanctuary the follow through ongoing support for him - bar literally one or two people - was just not there. Upon learning all this - and as an animal lover myself (though not yet fully vegan Embarrassed) - I have now set up a regular monthly contribution to help them out (via direct bank transfer from my bank account to theirs, since this method involves no deductions for processing etc from the amount donated whatsoever) and also a one-off donation to help with their immediate needs, and am posting all this in the hope that maybe one or two others who visit this site, and have enjoyed Yak's music over the years (or simply care about the dreadful amount of cruelty to animals that sadly goes on in the World these days), might want to join me in helping Martin and Fiona carry on with all this tremendous work that they do at the sanctuary, and hence help the animals that they so passionately care about.

And for anyone who is unfamiliar with the music of Martin and Yak, here is the stunning 24-minute title track of the latest Yak album 'Quest for the Stones', which was released in 2015, and is accompanied here by a really superb video:



Some links:

How you can help:

Go to http://www.towerhillstables.com/towerhill-helpingus.htm where you will find a whole list of ways that you can help the sanctuary meet its running costs:

These include:
- Much needed items on our Amazon Wishlist
- Running the World for Animals Appeal
- Animal Adoptions
- Donations
- Buy some food
- Shop Online with M&S, NEXT, Holland & Barrett, Sainsburys, Zavvi and many more!
- Candle of Remembrance - remember your loved ones
- Merchandise including Christmas cards
- Turkeys in Need
- Recycle printer cartridges via Office Green
- Buy the digital music track Merry Go-Round by Flipside Bride
- Join the Sanctuary Gym!
- Pet Insurance Comparison
- Equipment Appeal

Each of the above has its own link from the main page, but the two I will actually include here are:
http://www.towerhillstables.com/towerhill-merchandise.htm, which includes a PayPal donation button, the address to send cheques, a standing order form, and details for making a payment using Internet or telephone banking...and of course a link to purchase the wonderful Yak CD 'Journey of the Yak'. Smile

and also 
http://www.fionaoakes.com/turkeysinneed.html, from where you can make a one-off donation of £25 via PayPal, or click another link to sponsor a turkey regularly, with ready-to-go PayPal buttons set up for any monthly amount from £2 to £6 (a standing order option is also available which avoids the PayPal charges).



The above 'Turkeys in Need' site was created for 2015, and will be used again - with the same sponsorship names for the birds this year - the principle being exactly the same.

To buy the latest Yak CD 'Quest for the Stones', just go to http://www.yaksongs.com/, and everything will be right there waiting for you! Smile
Simple instructions for purchasing the older Yak albums can be found at: http://www.yaksongs.com/Music.html, which is the address of the 'Music' tab that can be found on the main page.

And remember  - the proceeds from every Yak CD sale goes to the Sanctuary - none of the music is sold for personal gain, it's just to raise money for the charity. Martin pays for the postage & materials himself, so that 100% of the money that is donated for a Yak album goes directly to the charity.

There are also a couple of ethical clothing companies who donate a percentage of their profits to the Sanctuary to help with its feed bills.
 
One is called 'Plant Powered Apparel': www.plantpoweredapparel.com
The other is called 'Wear Your Voice': http://www.wearyourvoice.co.uk

And finally, if you've managed to make it down this far, then thanks very much indeed for taking the time to read all this, and if you carry on that little bit further and actually decide to help Martin and Fiona out, they will be so, so pleased! Even if it's only a couple of pounds, dollars, or whatever currency you use per month (less than the price of a single alcoholic beverage in a pub here in the UK), if enough people were to do it, that's all it would take!

Thank you again. Smile

PS: Stanley the pig, who featured above, has since had a knighthood bestowed upon him in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of World animal cruelty awareness, and he is now known as 'Sir Stanley Snuffles'! Clap



Edited by yam yam - October 17 2016 at 00:23
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2016 at 13:20
Thank you for posting this Yam Yam :) - much appreciate the time & effort to pull all this together !
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2016 at 15:27
My pleasure Martin. Smile

Hope it manages to touch a few hearts and bring you in a few extra pounds for what is a truly incredible example of determination and dedication to a really worthwhile cause. You and Fiona have both dedicated a huge part of your lives to saving these poor unfortunate creatures from would have been a most wretched end. I am absolutely in awe of what you have managed to achieve down there with the very limited resources at your disposal.

Your music ain't bad either! LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2016 at 15:44
A recording of an interview with Martin's partner (and founder of the sanctuary) Fiona Oakes last night on VoiceAmerica: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/94729/fiona-oakes-inspiration-to-the-worldThumbs Up
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2016 at 15:54
Anyone who helps animals is a hero in my book.   Animals give us so much love, I don't think most people see that.   I will try to read the entire post and get the information.

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"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."   -- John F. Kennedy
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 24 2016 at 22:06
Thought I'd throw in a little video that Martin made a few years ago giving us a little guided tour of the sanctuary, and also showing the horses being brought in for the night.



For lots more sanctuary videos visit the Yaksongs YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/yaksongs/videos.

On a more musical note, anyone who enjoys the music of Yak will probably enjoy this fascinating interview that David Elliot (now CEO of Bad Elephant Music) conducted with Martin for the third of his European Perspective prog radio shows (still going strong, and now up to episode 243) on The Dividing Line Broadcast Network in a noisy coffee shop in Stratford, East London back in December 2008: http://www.theeuropeanperspective.com/?p=113. Martin talks at length about his musical influences, his early years of playing keys, and the development of the songs that make up the 'Journey of the Yak' album.

Here is the playlist for the show:

01. Solstice - Return of Spring (4:53) from Silent Dance, 1984
02. Pendragon - Indigo (13:44) from Pure, 2008
03. The Tangent - The Ethernet (10:13) from Not As Good As The Book, 2008
04. The Flower Kings - Devil's Playground (25:27) from Unfold The Future, 2002

Interview with Martin Morgan of Yak, featuring excerpts from:
05. Camel - Song Within a Song from Moonmadness, 1976
06. Genesis - In That Quiet Earth from Wind and Wuthering, 1977
07. Yak - Aragorn from Dark Side of the Duck, 2004
08. Yak - Gates of Moria from Journey of the Yak, 2008
09. Yak - Entangled In Dreams from Journey of the Yak, 2008
10. Yak - Jadis of Charn from Journey of the Yak, 2008
11. Yak - March Of The Huorns from Journey of the Yak, 2008
12. Yak - Dearly Departed from Journey of the Yak, 2008
13. Yak - Journey of the Yak from Journey of the Yak, 2008

14. Haze - Fallen Leaves (3:54) from In The End: 1978-1988, 1992
15. It Bites - The Wind That Shakes The Barley (8:12) from The Tall Ships, 2008
16. Simon Says - The Chosen One (5:44) from Tardigrade, 2008
17. Lazuli - Cassiopee (6:36) from En Avant Doute, 2006
18. Tinyfish - God Eat God (3:13) from Tinyfish, 2006
19. Magenta - Pride (11:30) from The Gathering, 2005

The interview with Martin starts at 57:54.

Finally, Sir Stanley Snuffles, the pig that I previously mentioned - which Martin and Fiona rescued from being sold for bacon on the 'Preloved' website - is booked in for an operation on Thursday that will enable him to be integrated with the other 70 or so pigs that the sanctuary looks after. The operation will cost about £500, and because of numerous other heavy financial outgoings the sanctuary has been faced with just recently, an appeal has been set up on the GoldenGiving website to try to raise the money for it: https://www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/stanleysnuffles. The appeal is about halfway towards its target so far, but only runs until 31st October, so if anyone reading this would like to help them out at all, it would indeed be very much appreciated. Smile
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