Our Founder

Decorated war veteran John Hobhouse had been a chairman of both the national RSPCA charity and of the Bath Cats and Dogs Home and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of stray animals. He was honorary president of the Claverton Down centre, where he spearheaded a major expansion project, at the time of his death. He was born at Oakhill, near Shepton Mallet in 1910 and educated at Old Malthouse School in Langton Matravers, before moving to Eton College in 1923, and then Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1929.After leaving university, he worked in the insurance industry in Scotland and Bristol. At the start of the Second World War, he was sent to Porthcawl in Wales on a course as an air gunner crew member. It was here that he met his wife Mary, and they married three months later, before he was posted to 600 Squadron in Kent as a fighter commander. He was recognised for his bravery and skills, and became one of only five gunners to be awarded the Air Force Cross. This landed him a senior job with the RAF at High Wycombe, and later with the then Air Ministry.In 1940 the couple moved to a small farmhouse near Duxford aerodrome in Cambridgeshire. They adopted a Welsh collie called Sewin, which had been owned by a wing commander who died in action, and rescued another dog called Mouse, who was being dragged along the road with a rope tied to her neck. This started their lifelong passion for animals, and when they moved to the Bath area, they joined the committee of the RSPCA branch in the city in 1948, with Mr Hobhouse becoming the chairman the following year. He was able to convince the city council that it could save money by sending strays to the charity’s kennels instead of paying a vet to put animals down. After three years as chairman of the Bath branch, he became convinced that the Bath no destruction policy should be rolled out nationwide. He was elected to the RSPCA’s national council in 1955 and started the long battle to achieve this, forming a Homeless Animals Committee, which he also chaired. This committee persuaded the RSPCA council to spend the £100,000 necessary to build modern kennels across the UK.Within a year these new kennels were saving the lives of 10,000 dogs that would otherwise have been destroyed. In 1966 he became the chairman of the RSPCA council, and was kept busy visiting the main RSPCA branches, and travelling to London twice a week. In his spare time he became interested in horse racing and bought a racehorse, and at a race in 1982, Mr Hobhouse won £150,000, which he used to set up the Hobhouse Animal Trust to help small animals. He survived Mary, and was named the best chairman of the society of the 20th century in an official history of the RSPCA.