Urgent appeal after animal sanctuary hit by flooding

Horses which usually would have been kept in special care paddocks at Hillside Animal Sanctuary have been moved into...

Horses which usually would have been kept in special care paddocks at Hillside Animal Sanctuary have been moved into emergency accommodation after the paddocks were completely covered by flood water, which could take several months to drain away. - Credit: Hillside Animal Sanctuary

A sanctuary near Norwich which cares for more than 4,000 rescued animals has been forced to issue an urgent appeal after flooding rendered some of its special care paddocks unusable.

Hillside Animal Sanctuary, based at Hill Top Farm in Frettenham, has been operating since 1995 and looks after thousands of horses, ponies and donkey, as well as plenty of other farmyard favourites.

Staff had to scramble to move horses into covered accommodation after heavy rain caused four of its special care paddocks to flood entirely.

Wendy Valentine, who founded the sanctuary more than 25 years ago, said she expects "it will be spring or summer before things start looking better".

Horses which usually would have been kept in special care paddocks at Hillside Animal Sanctuary have been moved into...

Horses which usually would have been kept in special care paddocks at Hillside Animal Sanctuary have been moved into emergency accommodation after the paddocks were completely covered by flood water, which could take several months to drain away. - Credit: Hillside Animal Sanctuary

She said: "Every year we get a bit of flooding, but the winters are definitely getting wetter and the summers drier. This year we've had more paddocks out of operation than ever before.


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"Sometimes we get a bit of a pool, maybe on one part of the field, but this time the field is totally underwater."

The horses were moved into covered barns, which are usually reserved for "extreme emergency cases".

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Mrs Valentine said: "Obviously this is an emergency, but usually it's more for horses coming in which are not very well, or new intakes and things like that.

"We've wriggled around and got them all in somewhere, and we've got big straw pads down for a lot of them so they're not up to their knees in mud. It takes so much more straw to keep their feet dry."

Horses which usually would have been kept in special care paddocks at Hillside Animal Sanctuary have been moved into...

Horses which usually would have been kept in special care paddocks at Hillside Animal Sanctuary have been moved into emergency accommodation after the paddocks were completely covered by flood water, which could take several months to drain away. - Credit: Hillside Animal Sanctuary

It's the cost of the extra straw which is such a drain on the sanctuary's resources, the cost of which has significantly risen after a dry summer.

Hillside pays around £100 per tonne of straw, compared to the £70 it used to cost, and uses "hundreds of bales per week".

Meeting those costs has been difficult as the organisation has been unable to hold fundraising events amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Valentine added.

"For us it's just about getting through the winter, looking after and feeding all the animals, and looking forward to the spring."

Hillside is appealing for donations to help it pay for the extra straw required while the paddocks are out of use.

To find out more, visit the sanctuary's website.

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