Alexandra’s Bastedo - animals for life, not just for Christmas

Starsky and Hutch

Starsky and Hutch - Credit: Archant

The animals at the ABC Sanctuary need to be brought in from the cold, says actress and custodian Alexandra Bastedo

Asleep in bed the other morning at 7am I had the distinct impression there was a herd of elephants thundering over my head: bang, crash, wallop. By 7.30am it had stopped, and as I awoke I realised it was the sound of the four kittens we had rescued playing in the bathroom over my head. Suddenly no longer tiny, they gambol like lambs and play-fight like Mike Tyson, knocking over everything in their wake. Fortunately they have all been reserved and have homes to go to so the mayhem is not permanent.

However, with the increasingly wintry weather, any vulnerable animal is brought into the house and there are still plenty of other youngsters to replace them. I used to joke that a cat had to be over 17 to move into the house, and there are eight oldies in residence, but the very young are at risk too. A black cat called Spot who is very affectionate is of particular concern – aged 14 he was abandoned and was living rough when he was handed in. We would love him to have a warm home for the winter. If you can help with him, or any of the animals on our website, please call Di on 07920 255045 or Maggie on 07901 248416.

We have also had a particularly hard time with vets’ bills recently. After months of relative quiet with – on the whole – just neutering and vaccinations, we have had a spate of bad luck. Jill, our smallest mini-Shetland, ripped her eye on a branch and had to undergo major surgery to save her sight; Boris our lovely goat had a blockage, and tragically died in spite of an operation to save him; a cat came in with a broken tail which had to be surgically removed; and a beautiful Siamese (who came in with her brother after their owner died) is being treated for lung problems. Apart from antibiotics, this includes special feeding with Liquivite and Hills AD tins combined with cod liver oil, and Vitamins E, B and C. It is slow work but she is improving. The recession is supposed to be getting better, but based on the animal world I would not say so. Even pedigree cats are coming in, and the pleas to take in really lovely ponies are also in abundance. We have squeezed in another two mini Shetlands which has meant sub- dividing a field to accommodate them, but it is heart-rending the number we have to turn away.

To keep going we also need more volunteers, as without them the work cannot be done and we cannot take in more animals. We need people experienced with animals as future team leaders, youngsters (over 16) to learn, and we also need carpenters to build and repair shelters and fencing, not to mention plumbers and electricians. If you can help please contact Cheryl on 07584 359311.