Abby Dobson

“Working with Leonardo’s Bride was a wonderful experience. I started working with Dean Manning in 1990 and we formed the group in 1992; joined by Pat Wong and Jon “Wolfie” Howell. We stayed together until 2001. It was a long association, but it’s difficult to keep growing in a band. It’s a huge relationship.

The name Leonardo’s Bride came from one of the songs on our first EP. It made reference to Leonardo da Vinci – not the ninja turtle as many people had suggested, nor Leonardo di Caprio.

By the time Leonardo’s Bride disbanded, I had developed rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. I was unwell for a very long time, but I was determined to heal myself without taking drugs. I focussed on diet and used Japanese acupuncture and meditation. I tried to eliminate from my diet all the things that might be putting a stress on my body.

The body is an intelligent organism that wants to heal itself, but you need to get rid of unnecessary pressures. When I was ill, I started to read the labels on food I was consuming. I eliminated wheat, sugar, dairy, alcohol, preservatives and colourings from my diet. I was shocked to learn how many additives are in our food.

I, and probably most other people, just assumed the companies producing our food were ethical, but I was wrong. I am appalled to think that many of us are being poisoned by what we consume.

In recent times, I have recorded and toured with Paul Mac and have written and recorded songs for soundtracks likeThe Secret Life of Us. I’ve also been working on my debut solo album. It’s called Rise Up and I’m really thrilled with it. It’s taken me a long time and I’ve gone down many highways and byways, dead end streets and magnificent scenic routes trying to make an album that I loved. It was a big journey but it was worth it.

I feel strongly about animal cruelty. I’m just starting to be aware of some of the issues. Recently a friend was telling me about problems with different breeds of dogs. Sausage dogs are specially bred to look “cute” but, as a consequence, they have terrible health problems. I was appalled to realise that people are purposely producing deformed animals. I am also learning about products that are cruelty-free.

It is just ignorance that keeps many people buying products produced in a cruel way. People are not choosing cruelty – they just don’t know the facts behind the products they use. It is very important that groups like Choose Cruelty Free inform consumers about companies which do not perform inhumane and unnecessary animal tests.”

“You can still be beautiful without harming animals, and it is indeed a beautiful choice to be cruelty-free.”