Exmouth plane crash victim Joanna Toole awarded posthumous honours
PUBLISHED: 14:33 01 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:56 02 April 2019
An Exmouth woman who died in an Ethiopian air disaster has been given two special posthumous honours.
Joanna Toole was awarded her masters degree in ‘Implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Agenda’ and an honours award from the RSPCA for her influential campaigning on animal welfare issues.
The 36-year-old was one of 157 passengers and crew aboard an Ethiopian Airlines jet which crashed near the town of Bishoftu six minutes after takeoff.
There were no survivors in the crash, which is still being investigated by civil aviation authorities.
Joanna’s father, Adrian, said: “I have only really been learning since her death quite the extent to which she was held in regard by the organisations she worked for and worked with.
“To us, she was primarily a daughter and sister.
“Not only have we had many tributes but as we see now, she has got an award from the RSPCA which is special and unusual.”
Joanna was nominated for the RSPCA award by her former colleague, Claire Bass.
Ms Bass, who is chief executive of the Humane Society International, co-founded the Global Ghost Gear Initiative with Joanna.
The scheme aims to rid the world’s oceans of hundreds of thousands of tonnes worth of plastic fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded, and is the most harmful form of marine debris.
Ms Bass said: “Joanna’s RSPCA award was born out of a terrible tragedy. I and other colleagues felt a real need to make sure her legacy would continue.
“We wanted to create a proper tribute to her incredible work and see it properly honoured and carried on.”
The RSPCA awards honour those from the front line of animal care – such as vets and nurses – to the people who carried out the work Joanna did.
“She was at the highest level of international politics,” Mrs Bass said. “She was forging a path, blazing a trail to make a more compassionate world for animals.
“That was her mission and she devoted herself towards making that a reality.”
Ms Bass said she is still living in disbelief regarding Joanna’s tragic death.
It’s so abstract,” she said. “Awful things like this happen on the news, but you never imagine it could happen to anyone you care about.
“I will miss Jo for her positivity, kindness and wonderful sense of humour.
“To everyone she worked with, she was a breath of fresh air with such energy and a belief that things could be better for animals and their environment.”