Warwickshire animal sanctuary's appeal for help after owner catches Covid
WHEN 76-year-old Carole Webb was taken into hospital after testing positive for Covid-19, it was one of the few times in decades that she was separated from her beloved animals… all 450 of them.
The former veterinary nurse is the founder of the Farm Animal Rescue Sanctuary in Wolverton, a centre which she set up more than 30 years ago in Hertfordshire.
Carole and the sanctuary have been through some tough times over the decades – including moving to Warwickshire – but the coronavirus pandemic is causing extreme hardship as donations plummet.
The centre has also had to limit the number of volunteers on the site, meaning hundreds of formerly neglected and abused animals were being cared for by Carole and three others.
And then, just before Christmas, Carole ended up in hospital and another volunteer also had to self-isolate after a positive test.
That left two to hold things together. On a dwindling income.
While Carole is out of hospital and recovering, the financial situation is critical.
Carole said: “My animals are my life and they mean everything to me. They were all I could think about while I was in hospital and I’m so happy to be back with them.”
A crowdfunding appeal has been launched to help cover the costs of running the sanctuary – hay, straw and animal feed cost the shelter £1,500 a week, and that’s excluding expenses such as electricity, water and rent.
The sanctuary relies entirely on donations from the public, often raised through fundraising events, all of which have been cancelled until spring at the very earliest.
Volunteer Ellie Taylor said: “Due to the pandemic we have seen a significant drop in regular donations and all events have had to be cancelled. The public is the sanctuary’s only hope and we desperately need their help.”
Lenka Sobotkova, another volunteer who is helping with the fundraising, added: “It’s a daily battle. If the funds run out, then the animals would start starving and Carole wouldn’t be able to save any more or help any more animals.”
The majority of the animals are sheep – about 80 per cent – but there are also pigs, a young bull, chickens, pigeons, cats and dogs.
“They’ve come from farms where they have been dropped by farmers because they haven’t been in a state where they would physically make it,” Lenka explained. “Sometimes they’ve come from auctions.”
While Carole is back at the sanctuary, the volunteers are making sure she rests and recovers from the virus, but it is hard for someone who has spent so long caring for animals.
“When she was discharged from the hospital, she came back and was very sick,” said Lenka. “She will take longer to recover – she gets tired really quickly. We all try to keep an eye on her but it’s difficult as she is used to seeing the animals every single day – she has names for every single one of them.
“She never has a day off, she’s never away from animals, she never takes any retreats, any spas or holidays – she’s there 24/7 for them.
“When she was in hospital for two weeks it was absolutely heartbreaking for her.”
Money is now what is needed to keep the sanctuary caring for the animals. As well as the crowdfunding appeal, there are a number of ways to help, including an Amazon wish list.
There is also a need for more volunteers to help, from home, with bookkeeping, social media, fundraising and more.
To support the appeal, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/emergency-covid-19-hay-and-feed-appeal. To find out more about the sanctuary and volunteering, visit www.farmanimalrescuesanctuary.co.uk.