In the news

September 11, 1998

Ever since he defended sewing up kittens' eyes to conduct experiments on vision, animal activists have plagued British Association president Colin Blakemore, along with his wife, three children and his cat Sharon.

Earlier this year a masked mob armed with bricks and bottles smashed windows and tried to batter open his front door with a block of concrete. He was attacked with a chair while lecturing, his children have been threatened with kidnap, he received a letter bomb wrapped up as a Christmas parcel, his car has been daubed with paint-stripper and 200 people have demonstrated outside his house.

Professor Blakemore continues to speak out because he believes animal experimentation is an issue that needs to be aired.

An enthusiastic marathon runner - he came first in his age group on the Olympic centenary run from Marathon to Athens - he has never been one to shrink from a challenge. He has had his own television series, The Mind Machine, and appeared on Question Time with comedian Jo Brand.

Nor does he shy away from controversy. He stopped eating beef more than ten years ago because of the BSE scare and has advised parents to feed their children chicken rather than beef or lamb for the same reason.

He joined the Independent on Sunday's campaign to legalise cannabis and suggested Oxford University should go independent to encourage people to do their own fundraising.

An only child from a working-class background in Coventry, he won a scholarship to read medicine at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where, in his third year, he lost half his stomach in a gastrectomy, after suffering a duodenal ulcer in his teens.

Now 54, he admits to early fears of mortality driving him to work hard. The only recreation he lists in Who's Who is "wasting time".

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