Passionate animal activist and philanthropist Frances Hayward, who resides in East Hampton at Grey Gardens, one of America's most notorious estates that has been her refuge for the past 10 years, is no stranger to raising awareness and funds for the needy. Some of her favorite charities include the Royal Academy of Arts, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Harbor for Boys and Girls and ARF
(the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons
). She is the Honorary Chairperson of the Humane Society in Grand Bahama and the founder of the island's Spay/Neuter campaign.
Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, Hayward's humane work has been her main focus. She began a new campaign to raise money to help rescue dogs and cats left stranded in that area and created BeKind, a matching set of bracelets for people and collars for pets. The fashionable accessories have been seen on the chicest dogs' necks to socialites like Paris and Nicky Hilton
's wrists. Hayward's inspiration for the campaign came from her own rescued pet Amigo, a canine "rags-to-riches" story. The mixed breed was found by Hayward diseased and stranded at the airport after Hurricane Frances struck the Bahamas. She nurtured the puppy to health and he now lives a life of luxury and love. Amigo became the poster dog of the Bahamian Spay/Neuter Campaign.
The official launch of BeKind was a star-studded event held at Grey Gardens in September 2005 and was attended by over 200 guests with an appearance by world famous Chihuahua Tinkerbell Hilton. Since then, more than 30,000 bracelets have been sold, raising over $200,000. Shortly thereafter, Hayward, along with the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, organized a rescue mission on board the "Amigo Express", a chartered bus they drove to Louisiana, and brought back 20 homeless dogs and cats. "If we can't find their owner," said Frances, "we're going to adopt them." Amigo's legacy will continue with the Friends of Amigo Foundation, a partnership with the Humane Society to continue to help animals affected by natural disasters.
But Hayward's work is far from over. She is relentless when it comes to helping animals and is partnering with designer CeCe Cord
, who is known for both her handbags and her line of canine couture, "Travels With Tiger" to create the next item in the BeKind line - a hand knit sweater for dogs. The new sweater will be introduced at a benefit luncheon for the Humane Society of the United States this winter. Expect more big name designers to be adding to the BeKind collection this year.
Always working to promote awareness, Frances and Amigo are heavily involved with the upcoming Genesis Awards for the Humane Society of the U.S. and are acting as Co-chair and Canine Chair at the Humane Society of New York's Fine Photography auction in May. Earlier this month, Hayward was presented with Hollywood Life's Breakthrough of the Year Award for her work with homeless animals. She and Amigo proudly walked down the red carpet at the Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles and accepted her award presented by Alicia Siverstone.
Frances Hayward was born in America of a musical and theatrical family. She was educated at Julliard School of Music and spends her time between East Hampton, New York, the Bahamas and London. She is married to Sir Jack Hayward.