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In our Spring newsletter, I mentioned that the sanctuary was approaching the 30th anniversary since Jacky & I began, way back in 1991.
Chatting to a friend, she asked what I was doing to commemorate the remarkable achievement of the milestone, and I replied “nothing planned”. She then rightly pointed out that 30 years of sanctuary life and animals saved, is worth celebrating.
Even though reminiscing is very different now without Jacky who was by my side for 20 years from when we started the sanctuary, I am fortunate to be able to share our history with you - my good friends and supporters who have been with me through many years, as we continue together.
This newsletter has therefore taken a different direction from my usual ramblings, and hopefully you’ll enjoy reading some memories and thoughts about our beliefs that directed the way our sanctuary grew.
I hope you may like to receive a little thank you for your support, by taking part in our first ever prize draw and buying a photo artwork card, which will automatically enter you into the draw. The cards are priced just to cover costs and if you choose to, you can also add a donation - all the details are on a separate web page so please click on the blue gift box below to join in.
It’s been a long, hard winter and summer has been slow to arrive, but with the easing of lockdown restrictions and a glimmer of sun, perhaps we can enjoy a fundraising celebration together, to help the sanctuary continue for many more years.
Ten years ago, Jacky & I were planning to celebrate our 20 year anniversary and were working on a dvd from the start of the sanctuary in 1991. Sadly Jacky’s health worsened and she died in February 2011 which de-railed life in so many ways. With the help of a good friend however, the dvd was finished and released later that year, but there was no celebration in my heart.
Over the years there have been many animals that Jacky & I helped, with many ups and downs too of course. It has always been hard physical work but also mentally, as we juggled the various individual animals care needs, but mostly dealing with their trauma and mental worries that they arrived with. There are never any quick fixes and we’d celebrate each little step forward of improvement, as confidence grew and we’d see a waggy dog tail or hear a purring feline.
We’ve had various volunteers who helped us with the physical work which meant that we were able to help some of the larger animals - goats, pigs, couple of cows and sheep. I wonder how many of you are remembering various names you’ve known over the years….Trubshaw, Sausage, Trug, Dylan, Whispa, Albi and so very many more.
We managed with very limited funds, hanging on by our fingernails and being rescued by our dedicated supporters who agreed the sanctuary is needed. Every step of the way, we have had supporters who believed in us and what we were doing - giving a chance to those desperate pets that had no-where else, offering them the lifeline they needed.
I still remember your words of encouragement in those early days after Jacky’s death when I wondered if the sanctuary could indeed carry on. Now I find myself looking back on another ten years of sanctuary life, with the ongoing belief of our supporters who make it possible, and realise that I have indeed continued the sanctuary’s life saving work for many more pets in peril.
Nowadays I have the physical help of Andrew & Suzy, as well as the wonderful volunteer fundraising team who run the two summer fetes we’d normally attend - sadly this is the second year without those for obvious reasons. ( I’m delighted to be fully vaccinated now if you wondered ).
The sanctuary now concentrates on helping the cats and dogs that find their way to us, in need of the understanding and the peace they receive here.
I’m honoured to be supported by you, our loyal friends, enabling us together, to make a difference to so many pets lives - - THANK YOU
Running the sanctuary takes more than just heart, knowledge and commitment of course, and that is where you - our amazing supporters, step into the limelight. Without your support and financial contributions, the sanctuary could not exist - it is as simple as that. You are the most important link and lifeline, and have for 30 years, been the army behind Chaldon.
Thank you to those who send donations so that I can use your kind gifts where it’s most needed at the time, be it food, vet bills, maintenance, fencing repairs, bills or any of the other costs of running the sanctuary.
Some of you have for years, quietly donated ( standing order or cheque in the post ) monthly, quarterly or annually at Christmas - all of this is the backbone of our finances.
Sometimes we receive unexpected extras when gifts are received in memory of a loved one - be they human or pet. The sanctuary has also been helped to continue and is touched by the kindness of those who make a difference by remembering us in their Will.
While the financial support is obviously essential, it’s not all about the money as pennies are tight for everyone, but the emotional support is not to be underestimated as you follow the lives in the sanctuary. You help in other varied ways, perhaps sending used postage stamps ( £65 recently raised ) or help spread the word so new supporters are found, by using the Amazon wish list, or Easyfundraising ( £37.78 received already ) and making or donating items to be sold for example.
I’m proud to say we have sanctuary friends who’ve been with us since the early 1990’s - you’ve seen some changes over the years ! However, at the core of the changing population, of both pets and people ( supporters & Jacky ) the belief and ethos of what the sanctuary ( Jacky & Liz ) stand for, has remained the same - help those who don’t fit into a pigeon-hole - or normal home as one friend put it !
Every life is important and every life reflects their experiences in the way they behave - some need more understanding to enable them to live with peaceful minds and happiness in their hearts.
Small words - thank you - but with massive, heartfelt meaning for so many lives touched over 30 years.
I don’t refer to the furry residents here as my “fur babies” but I do call them my furry family. I provide for their needs, food, health care - mental and physical, love and training - just like any good parent I guess.
I don’t find it easy to explain what “it” is that I do - those of you who know the sanctuary and follow our newsletters, read about the pets helped and join in their progress over the years, understand how the environment provided works its magic, but there is no magic wand.
It can be hard to explain how the daily routine, the little moments of observation, the way I move and talk to them, plus allowing the space to learn to trust, all adds up and makes such a difference. There is no time limit or expectations put on them - they will progress in their own time, while being helped to move forward into a happier mindset. A month after arrival, they will be happier but look back a year later and it’s usually like seeing a different animal.
I hesitated before showing the first photo I took of Jeeves the day he arrived in May 2020 but it shows the reality of who the sanctuary takes.
“ I will bite you”.
One of the Facebook groups I follow about canine enrichment is run by a well regarded animal behaviourist Shay Kelly, and he’s kindly given permission for me to use his following words, as I think they help explain how the sanctuary functions and I’ve underlined his last words deliberately.
It's easy to get the impression that enrichment is all about food toys; however, there's much more to an enriched life than this. It's about enjoying life; having the opportunities to enjoy the scents, the breeze, and the mud. It's about living fear-free; it's about feeling part of a family; it's about having a human you can trust not to hurt you. Enrichment is about quality of life; not for 5 or 10 minutes per day, but for the dog's entire life. It’s a way of life.
Shay Kelly BSs FdSc (canine behaviour)
An example of a moment I shared with Jeeves, as one evening he had chosen to lay by my footstool. He lifted and turned his head, touched my leg with his nose and then stretched out, flat on his side with a big sigh of happiness - I smiled.
This is a photo of Jeeves exactly a year after arriving - May 2021
“ I trust you”.
As I’ve been working on the previous pages, I heard a tiny purrup sound and looking round, saw Katie cat sound asleep in the round window, completely relaxed and happy, toes dangling over the window edge - that’s another of those little smile moments.
The photo below left is Twiggy cat making progress ( July 2019 ) a few weeks after she arrived as a scared attack cat, who would have shredded my hand given a chance.
The right photo is nearly a year later ( June 2020 ) as she invited me to stroke her tummy, which I can now safely do - to her delight and mine.
Naturally many connections in my life are made through animals, but I had no idea of the consequences that would follow from offering a place of safety to Zora ( dog ), as we also gained a patron.
The wonderful actor and animal advocate Peter Egan approached me in 2015 about becoming our patron and I was thrilled and honoured to accept.
Peter has visited bringing food donations or a new canine ( Crusoe ) to join the sanctuary family as well as being responsible for Bumble and Fagin joining us too. He is the most genuine animal lover and voice for the animals who need people to speak up for them and the conditions that so many suffer in. Peter’s lovely wife Myra was also a friend of the sanctuary but hadn’t managed to visit, and in March we heard the awful news that she had died.
We send our heartfelt sympathy and support to Peter as I know Myra was his rock, as Jacky had been mine. We offer him strength and love to continue to speak out for animals and the beliefs that he and Myra shared.
I know how incredibly lucky I am working from home, though office work in the lounge is not always easy ( but more enjoyable for me and the pets than being alone in the spare room office ). There isn’t a commute to work other than from the kitchen kettle to my armchair, but first I need to reclaim my chair - -
Twiggy & Maddie Katie & Rosa
They obligingly shift a little to allow me to sit but don’t move very far - -
Twiggy & Rosa on my legs Maddie on my lap.
There isn’t an “off” switch for the animals or 9-5pm hours for me but if it’s walk time and I’m still sitting ( work or rest ), this is likely to be my view - -
Jeeves, Bumble, Taxi & Wizard.
You may know how Tarzan ( ex-feral cat ) got his name as when I went to collect him, he panicked and was swinging off the walls of the pen he was in. Recently when I approached the cat house, he was “in action” on a litter tray, a vulnerable position of course. I froze and looked away ( they aren’t embarrassed to be seen ‘going’ but eye contact can be threatening ) while he finished. What was lovely was that he then came up to me and headbutted my hand, demanding a fuss and stroke, and it’s wonderful to be able to give it to him on his terms.
Naturally I chat to the animals while working around the sanctuary but did find myself grinning when I heard myself say to the cats - ”think this is my favourite litter tray” !
Let me clarify that comment by saying that not all trays are created equal, both in shape and size for the cats comfort as well as for me to open the hooded lid and clean, so it’s not such a strange statement really, at least, not in my world !
Chaldon Animal Sanctuary Celebrates 30 years 1991 - 2021
This photo is extremely unusual and was taken back in 1997, but Jacky & I were rarely in a shot together as one would be behind the camera - and the other trying to hide behind an animal ! It seems appropriate to share it with you now.
One of our lovely supporters had nominated us in a competition run by Novartis Animal Health, and we won 1st prize which was £250 paid off our vet bill - an amazing and very welcome surprise. The photo was taken for an article that appeared in Cat World that year, Jacky on the left and me holding Amadeus.
So as I come to the end of this reflective and rather different newsletter, I’d like to share another quote that I think sums up the last ten years without Jacky in real life ( always in memory ).
The art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
Quote by Havelock Ellis,
'photos by me
The winter newsletter will be back to my usual stories from the sanctuary, plus the bumper crop of photos and an update on the celebration prize draw results.
Remember to click the gift box to join our celebrations.
With enormous gratitude and purrs and woofs from all of us
Liz & Furries