Horse sanctuary to open up on new site in Aylsham

A sanctuary which offers life-saving care for horses and equines is set to expand by opening up on a new site in north Norfolk.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary, whose headquarters are based at Hapton, near Norwich, is inviting supporters and members of the local community to come and see its new site in Aylsham at a special preview weekend.

Redwings Aylsham is on the site of the former Aylsham Fun Barns, which closed in December 2009, just off Henry Page Road near the junction with the A140.

The centre opens to visitors in 2012, but the charity has decided to hold a preview weekend, to show its supporters and the local community its plans for the site, from Friday 5 to Monday 8 August inclusive, from 10am to 3pm each day, and entry is free of charge.

There will be a small herd of Redwings horses on site to meet as well as the chance to explore the centre and speak to staff about its plans for the future. Walking tours of the site will also be running throughout the day.

Redwings currently cares for just over 1,200 rescued horses and ponies at eight sites based across Norfolk, Essex and Warwickshire, including the Caldecott Visitor Centre near Great Yarmouth. Its horse care and welfare hotline receives typically 3,000 calls per year.

However, with so many horses still in desperate need across the UK and Redwings being increasingly called on to help, the charity has decided to invest in the new 200-acre site at Aylsham in Norfolk, all thanks to a variety of legacy funds given for that purpose.

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Chief executive Lynn Cutress said the decision to purchase the site in Aylsham had come about because of the type, amount and location of land offered by the former Aylsham Fun barns site.

She added: 'We have increasing demand, but this a is a very long term thing, before we put horses there we will be getting the land ready. The majority of the site was previously used for farmland which means there is currently no fencing and very limited grazing for horses.'

She also said the whole project had started long before the recession hit, with the charity having been looking at purchasing extra land from around 2006 onwards.

She said: 'We have a lot of work to do to prepare the site to receive a full quota of horses, but we would love to show everyone what we hope to do with the centre, and how they can get involved.'

Redwings Horse Sanctuary was established in 1984, working to save horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.

Their largest rescue operation took place in Buckinghamshire in 2008 where they worked with other organisations to remove 97 equines from a site in one day.

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