A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals
Alexandra Bastedo’s ambition was to be a vet. However she was ‘discovered’ playing Miss Matty in Cranford in an amateur production and whisked off to Hollywood. She was picked to star in The Champions cult tv series at the age of 20. However at the earliest opportunity she started rescuing animals and now lives in the country next to 10 acres which houses the 150 animals at the ABC sanctuary and rescue centre. There are 55 volunteers, unpaid trustees, fund-raisers etc and is operating at capacity the entire time.
by Alexandra Bastedo
I never cease to be amazed by animal behaviour. I used to look out across a lake and see a lot of ducks or across a field and see several ponies without giving a thought as to their individual characters. However since starting the ABC Animal Sanctuary 28 years ago I have come to know their various personalities and emotions. They show love, affection, irritation, jealousy– even hate just as humans do. We have had geese die of grief 24 hours after the death of their mate. They honked piteously and there was nothing whatsoever that we could do to help.
One old donkey, William, adored Maddie, the grey pony we rescued with only half a tongue , and would follow her around each day even doing his little manure pile right next to her larger one. We were always warned that a donkey formed lifelong attachments with other animals and could die within two months if its great love passed away. And so it was with William – when his adored Maddie died his heart was broken, he ignored the other ponies and he too was gone within six weeks.
Worst of all were the two elderly pigs Hazel and Acorn. When the latter got ill we called out the vet but there was nothing she could do, and Acorn died. At that point Hazel lay across him, her body wracked with sobs and crying real tears. She refused to move and she too died within five days. It was heart-rending and once again we were powerless to help.
Sometimes introducing a new animal can totally change the dynamics of the group. When two rescued goats arrived in the next paddock Maddie was horrified and refused to go into her stable for several days preferring to brave the wind and the rain rather than meet the aliens next door. The pigs too on the other side decided to blame each other for the arrival of these monsters and started to attack each other, drawing blood. I consulted Francis Hunter, the eminent homeopathic vet, and he advised me to give them the remedy Staphisagria for resentment. Five days later they stopped fighting and curled up in their sty together once again. All this because of the arrival of two gentle goats!
Animals never cease to surprise me and in order to secure a future for them I had no option but to form the ABC Animal Sanctuary Charity. Otherwise they would face an ‘uncertain future’ or, indeed, the abattoir. The Charity, with its unpaid trustees and 55 volunteers, is no longer just about rescuing, looking after and re-homing animals. We are always full to capacity and hate to turn anything away.
As a charity it is very important that we play our part in the community and a major part of that is giving children the opportunity to come face to face with animals and to educate them about looking after them. On our Open Days it was wonderful to see their little faces full of wonderment and joy as they met the animals. We encourage school visits and will shortly be receiving children from the local hospice in wheel chairs and disabled children from the Variety Club.
However, all this costs money and this year the animal rescues are having a particularly bad time. Why? The snow and ice this winter made the growing season late and the subsequent drought has meant the hay yield is a third of what it should be. The price for a bale of hay is £6 instead of last year’s £2 and our ponies and donkeys get through 30 bales a week. We need at least 1,600 bales to take us through to next June. By December they are saying it may be as much as £12, so the situation is dire to say the least, and we are attempting to stockpile as much as possible, but the cost is crippling. So although our Open Days were successful all that money has already gone on hay.
It is difficult to say which season is most work, winter is very hard with the snow and ice and so is the summer with all the flies and midges meaning the equines have to be sprayed regularly and wear fly fringes to stop eye infections as the flies will drink the moisture from their eyes. Autumn brings its own problems: the pigs get drunk on the fermenting apples on the ground, the ponies must not eat the acorns which shed daily and have to be swept up – but the pigs can – Nature and God’s creatures are amazing.
l ABC Sanctuary, (Charity No.1133827) PO Box 2195, West Chiltington, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 2XB. Tel 07967046068. See our website:
www.abcanimalsanctuary.com. If you are able to send us a small donation, or to sponsor an animal, we will be most grateful. By becoming an ABC Friend you get regular news about the animals and information about our various events.
© Alexandra Bastedo
Go on to: A Big Man and a Little Dog
Return to: The Ark Number 216 - Winter 2010
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