A hidden sanctuary

Feature - Anniemals animal rescue centre. ''Pictured: Pepper, Holly Robinson, Heather Lorimer & Sunshine.
Feature - Anniemals animal rescue centre. ''Pictured: Pepper, Holly Robinson, Heather Lorimer & Sunshine.

TUCKED away on the edge of Badby is a little-known haven for abandoned animals.

Annie Blackett set up Anniemals 16 years ago. She now takes in and looks after all kinds of animals that would normally not find another home.

She said: “I came here first of all because I was looking for some land to keep my daughter’s horse on.

“When we got here there was a horse living on the land that had been neglected, so I asked the owner if that horse could be included with the land, and that’s how it started.

“I’ve never advertised it as a rescue centre, or asked for animals, but people found out and word spread and more and more people were calling up asking if we could take in animals they could no longer cope with.

“We’ve now got 18 horses and ponies, nine goats, four sheep, one pig, a lot of rabbits, plus assorted birds in an aviary.

“We tend to take animals that would normally not have a chance of being re-homed. They’re with us for the duration.

“It is expensive to run, look after and feed all the animals.

“We reached a point about a year ago when I said I can’t take on any more animals because of the financial situation. I’d never turned an animal away before that.

“We have about 20 people who regularly come in and volunteer.

“For some they love being with the animals, others like the social interaction with the other volunteers.

“Some volunteers more or less take on one horse and look after it as if it was their own – cleaning it own, grooming and taking it out for exercise.

“We have donation boxes in the Mapleleaf Garage in Daventry and the Coop in Byfield as well so that helps.

“We also get people coming here to get work and practical experience from nearby colleges.

“We even run a scheme for youngsters who have trouble in normal school. That provides a good income.

“But at the moment we don’t have anywhere for the volunteers to eat lunch, or even go to the toilet!

“So we’re working on transforming a barn into an educational centre which can be used as a classroom, or just a dry, warm place for people to eat their lunches.

“The idea is to make the centre more of a place for education for people wanting to learn about and work with the different types of animals we have here.

“We’ve had a lot of help from Blue Fin, bathroom and kitchen specialists based in Weedon with regards to the work which is fantastic as we don’t have a lot of money.”

At this time of year many people might be thinking about getting a new pet or other animal.

Annie said: “I guess I’d say think very hard about how much work and money is involved.

“People might think getting a horse would be good, but first you should be looking after another horse here or somewhere else just to see how much work is involved every day of the year.

“Plus there’s vet bills and more expenses on top of that. Animals can’t look after themselves, they rely on their owners for a lot, so if they can’t cope it’s the animal that suffers.

“That’s how I started – I 
got one horse and then I realised I couldn’t bear to see others suffering!”

If you want to volunteer or help in anyway at Anniemals call 01327 879472 or email anblacke@aol.com