On Friday 26th September 2014, we had a great group of 17 office workers from Cornwall Council organised by Volunteer Cornwall spend the day with us at the shelter. They worked together to paint wooden doors, hutches and sheds (even our ecoloo), finish pointing the walls of the pig stable and strim and clear the electric perimeter fence.
Maria gave the volunteers a little talk and then I showed them around the shelter, introducing them to the animals and explaining the jobs that we needed their help with. Marshall the goat was thrilled to be amongst so many people and demanded their attention and scratches!
Thanks to Cormac, the volunteers had a lovely tool box/trailer dropped off full of different tools to use (these are for volunteers working on various projects to use – a great scheme). After choosing their tools and preparing for the jobs they set to work. I worked with my normal volunteers around them, trying not to disturb their concentration haha
The naughty goat trio, Toffee, Fudge and Oliver had literally a field day. They spent most of the day in the top field with two of the volunteers munching their way through the branches that were being cleared from the perimeter fence. Lucy goose seemed to be on her best behaviour leaving the volunteers in her enclosure alone to paint her house and the other two sheds. There were a few chickens, the very friendly ones, that hung around the painters and pointers and they got a bit splattered with the water based paint, as they just would not stay out of the way.
Just before lunch, Maria popped back down for a little while and took some of the volunteers (the brave ones haha) for a walk with the goats up the village. My volunteer Jess took some photos for me. The goats were well behaved and they enjoyed themselves, both goats and volunteers.
At lunch time they had an order of Marys pasties which smelled gorgeous. One of the volunteers, Alina, then treated us to one of her beautiful home made cupcakes each. They were so good!
After lunch they finished the jobs very quickly and I got them all together for a photo.
Thank you very much to them all for their hard work. They have helped us do jobs we don’t get the time to do and it has helped towards preparing for the winter.
Thank you to Geraldine Baker, Phil Coad, Fiona Cooper, Abby Edwards, Jon Foxwell, Kate Harper, Peter Hockin, Lisa Hughes, Anthony Humphreys, Jess Keymer, Neil Kirkland, Dean Mitchell, Alina Smith, Angela Stevens, Karen Symonds, Leah Thomas, Mike Weston and Andy Winn.
Maria usually holds a big fundraiser each year and it usually takes place in a hall. This year, volunteer Charlotte had a great idea of holding an open day at the shelter, so that people could come and meet the animals, browse stalls, enjoy refreshments and have a go at a tombola and raffle. It would mean people could also reserve animals and give details for home checks.
As part of Charlottes college course, she set about organising the day with help from Maria and the other volunteers.
The eve of the Open Day
A huge amount of preparation was involved including where to put animals for the day, where stalls would be, who would be there to help, what refreshments would be available, etc.
When all was planned and ready, the volunteers worked hard to get everything out of the back room at the shelter, sort it and set onto tables. It was a big task, as there were some massive spiders in the room! The endless boxes of books did get a bit much for Lee and me!haha
When evening came, there was still a lot to sort, but it was left for the morning. Maria and her volunteers needed to rest for the big day ahead.
The Big Day
On the morning of the open day, everyone arrived early and set about finishing all preparations. Everything was ready just in time for the gate to open to visitors at 12noon. My Mum, Hazel welcomed the first visitors and enjoyed a busy day at the front gate with people coming and going all day.
Most visitors made a beeline for Maria and she had a good chat with lots of lovely people.
The refreshments proved hugely popular and Louise in the kitchen enjoyed them too, having sneaky bites here and there!
The animals were well behaved, except one naughty chicken determined to escape from her temporary enclosure. Volunteer Lee had fun catching her every 5 minutes!
We managed to rehome four guinea pigs, two chinchillas (to volunteer Jade!haha) and a hamster was reserved.
A Nice Amount Raised
It was a beautiful sunny day (poor volunteers got sunburn!) and it was nice to hear good feedback from the visitors who were surprised to find the shelter bigger than they thought and some were surprised to find it existed at all!
The day went very well and was worth all the hard work. We were very happy and grateful to raise a wonderful £900 on the day.
A very big thank you to all the hard working volunteers that made it happen and to all the visitors who helped us enjoy the day and raise such a lovely amount for the animals. Well done Charlotte and Maria….maybe same again next year?!
Volunteers John and Georgina were busy unloading the van when Jacqui and I arrived at Griggs in Sticker. Everyone around us in the car park was busy setting up stalls and unloading gorgeous animals, including alpacas, ponies and next to us some llamas from Llamaland. We got to work setting up the tables and fighting the wind with gaffer tape!Thank you for bringing that John!
Our tables were set up with Marias delicious preserves, a tombola, Marias handmade soaps, some books and greetings cards. It was looking lovely and the weather looked great. It was sunny with few clouds and a little wind. People began to arrive before the opening time of 10am.
The day went very well, with people buying up Marias preserves and a few books and cards, but the most popular money maker was the tombola. Everyone loved having a go and even us volunteers were watching expectantly to see if they had won a prize when they opened the tickets. It was a joy to see the look on the childrens faces when they won something and the adults who thought they were unlucky and never win anything!
The tombola works by all prizes having a ticket on them with the number ending in 0 or 5. All other tickets including that corresponding number are folded and put into a bucket. People then pay either 25p per ticket or £1 for 5 tickets. Most people opt for 5 tickets to have a better chance of winning. Some even bought 10 or 20 tickets! They then pick out their choice of tickets from the bucket and open them up and, if they have a ticket with the number ending in 0 or 5, they win the prize with that number on. Its a bit of fun for us to find the prize with that number on too, as we had white, blue and pink tickets to look through!
If children didn’t pick a winner, we had a tub of sweets so they could take one as a consolation prize. Sometimes they’d rather just have the sweet! I think some people became addicted to it, as they kept coming back to have another go!
We met some real lovely people during the day and it was so nice to see so many good people happily enjoying themselves. We gained a lot more support from people that had not heard of the shelter before and found some interested in taking on some rescue rabbits, which would be a great help right now with all the rabbits we have needing new homes and it has gone very quiet on the rehoming. There were also people willing to volunteer with us and some giving us tips on new ways of fundraising.
I handed out leaflets on the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund poll and asked if people could please vote for us. All of them who had a facebook account agreed to vote! Georgina was amazing and walked around the place handing these leaflets out to everyone she could, including other stall holders, to gain us more votes. Thank you, Georgina!
When it went a little quiet at times throughout the day, we had a lovely view of 4 llamas to keep us occupied. There were 2 adults and 2 babies in a pen next to us and they were beautiful. One of the adults was very sweet and kept calling whenever their owner disappeared out of sight.
By the afternoon, our feet and legs were aching and Jacqui very kindly queued for about 20 minutes to get us some free refreshments. Griggs gave out free food and drink, so as you’d imagine it was a pretty big queue! We had fun, but were glad to start packing up at about 3.50pm. It was much quicker loading up the van than unloading and then we were off.
Thank You For A Brilliant Day
Thank you to everyone who came and supported us, you helped us to raise £280 for the animals at the shelter. Thank you to Jacqui, John and Georgina for your help and for making the day fun. We had a brilliant day in the beautiful autumn sunshine, Thank you MA Griggs and well done!
One day, while working at the shelter, the effort trying to get the pigs (Blossom and Tammy the Kune Kunes) up to the far field sparked a good idea from volunteer Llinora. She suggested it may be easier, and much better for the pigs, if a little part of the wall opposite their stable was taken away to let them wander from the yard into the sheep field as they please during the day.
There would need to be a fence to separate the sheep and goats from them, as they would fight, and also to prevent the pigs from churning up where the sheep and goats graze. The pigs would have their very own field to do as they please, in a position where they can see the volunteers and what is going on (they love people) and with good shade from the trees. Perfect!
I put Llinoras idea to Maria and she thought it was brilliant too. We just needed the wood and the workforce!
A Visit From Martin Webb
Soon after, Martin Webb from Volunteer Cornwall visited the shelter to look around and assess whether it was suitable for the volunteers he was organising to come and help out. He was organising a list of places for staff at the Cornwall Council offices in Truro to choose where they would like to offer their time and help.
After his visit, a group from the Property Services Department in the Truro office chose to help us on their day of volunteering. From there, Maria and Martin discussed the plan for the pigs and they decided to erect the fence and two fences in the bottom field, to replace ineffective electric fencing to keep Fudge and Toffee (naughty goats) in, on the day planned for the Council staff.
Maria obtained wood for the fences and a small gate to allow access into what was to be the new pig field and the plan was set.
Martin and his team of volunteers from Cornwall Council Truro arrived at the shelter bright and early and got straight to work. They split into two teams, one team working on the two fences in the bottom field with naughty goats, Toffee and Fudge, and the other team working on the fence and gate in the top field for the new pig field with help from another naughty goat Marshall! After laying some of the wood down to see the postion it would be in, Marshall decided he’d like to walk across each plank!
The teams worked almost non stop and I’m sure there was some sort of little competition going on between them!
Martin wrote: “A team of seven staff from Cornwall Council’s Property Services Department spent a day volunteering at Maria’s Animal Shelter in Probus on Thursday 27th September 2012. Dave Saunders, Phillipa Delbridge-Smith, Lisa Barber, Helen Pascoe, Berni Bush, Michaela Trethewey and Ben Plummer spent the day at the Shelter helping Maria to erect three fences to secure the goats and help reduce the risk of them escaping onto the nearby road and also to create a new secure space for the two kune kune pigs. There was a lot of work to be completed in the day, the fences were being started from scratch and the holes for the fence posts had to be dug and then the posts cemented into position. In addition a gate needed to be fitted to one of the sections of fencing. In some areas the ground was hard to dig out due to the layers of slate and the work was not finished until just before 5pm that afternoon.”
All Done And Dusted
The fences were finished just before 5pm and the exhausted team were off. They did a fantastic job. The fences are beautiful and have made a big improvement to the shelter. Martin wrote: “The group of volunteers really enjoyed the day and got great satisfaction from both completing the task and knowing that they had helped Maria to improve the conditions for the animals at the shelter.”
Maria was delighted with the day’s progress and stated that she would not have been able to have got this work completed without the support of this team of volunteers.
Maria said “To be honest, I thought it was going to be too large a project for 8 people (7 volunteers and Martin Webb) in one day, but it was amazing how everyone worked together to pull it off. The weather was beautiful as well so that helped us keep in good spirits. I would not have been able to get the work done without the support of this team and I can’t thank everyone enough for all their hard work they put into it”
A huge Thank You to Martin and the team. We are so grateful for the hard work you did and you are welcome to come again any time. Perhaps a smaller project for you next time?! ha ha
If you would like to find out more about Cornwall Council’s employee volunteering scheme, please contact Martin Webb at Volunteer Cornwall on 01872 266991 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeley x with contributions from Martin Webb
Photos by Martin Webb
Marias Animal Shelter has been nominated by very kind supporters on the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) facebook page.
The RWAF is a large organisation that is devoted to improving the lives of the UKs pet rabbits. It raises money to distribute to rabbit rescues and, each year, they choose four rescues to receive a sponsorship from them with a share of the money they have raised. This year they have opted to try a voting poll on their facebook page to find two rescues to fill the last two places for sponsorship.
Thanks to our nomination from kind supporters of our work, we have been chosen for the voting poll to have a chance for sponsorship. We are in the poll alongside Rainbow Rabbits, Pixie’s Rabbit Rescue and Little Angels who are also very hard working rescues that deserve a chance for the sponsorship money. Stiff competition!
How To Vote
Voting closes on Sunday 30th September 2012. You can vote by using the link
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=487542231269739&id=191449507147 or find the RWAF facebook page or Marias Animal Shelter facebook page where we have posted the link to click on
then click on 1.marias animal rescue.
You will need to be logged in on facebook.
Every Vote Counts
We have received a good number of votes and people have very kindly been going out of their way to gain us more votes. We really need to get and stay at second place to win sponsorship from RWAF, so every single vote counts.
If we are lucky enough to be voted into second or even first place to receive the sponsorship, the money we receive will be such a great help with caring for the rabbits at the shelter. We currently have over 30 rabbits for rehoming and they cost the most at the moment. The money would be used to help with the vet bills for neutering, vaccinating and treatment for ailments and will help with feeding, cleaning and maintenance of hutches and pens. This would mean other funds raised can be put towards other much needed projects.
We are ever so grateful for being nominated and having a chance for some much needed funding. For everyone who nominated us for the poll, who has voted for us and tried to gain us more votes…….a huge THANK YOU!
Wow! My very first Blog on our wonderful new website constructed by Fay Swan. Thank you so much, Fay! For my first time I am happy to say I have something exciting and wonderful to write about!
Hearing about a new TV series
On receiving an Email, from the lovely Martin Webb of Volunteer Cornwall, about an opportunity to appear on a new TV series about helping small charities raise funding, my first thought was that Maria would say no way. She absolutely hates photographs and filming of herself. She had a think about it and the chance to gain some funding for the animals at the shelter was not to be missed so she asked me to be the main person for filming. I’m exactly the same as her…..terrified of being filmed!
I filled out the questionnaire and entered us both in the main person for filming box, thinking we’d never get this in a million years! The questionnaire was Emailed back to the production company (Silver River Productions) and we carried on as normal and didn’t think much more about it.
A telephone call
On the closing day for applications, Maria received a phone call in the evening and very excitedly phoned me to say we had been shortlisted to their final ten (there would be six charities featured in the series) and that they were travelling down to Cornwall from London to test film us the following week! I was petrified and excited at the same time!
To our relief, only two people came to do the test filming. I was so nervous, I have actually forgotten their names! Sorry to the lovely lady and gentleman! Maria and I both messed up a few times while being interviewed, forgetting what we were saying and not getting across what we meant to. Maria, however, amazed all the volunteers by doing a brilliant job considering her nerves. You can read a little of what Marias filming experience was like on our facebook page on the wall.
After this test film, we were told we would hear whether we had been chosen for the proper filming within a week. The wait was excruciating. We kept thinking about it and going over what we had said to them and whether it had put them off!
The week was up and still no phone call after sending them disclosure forms. It looked like we blew it!
Finally…a telephone call
Days later, Maria received another phone call from the production team and we were told they wanted to do a little more filming. This sounded promising! They told Maria they wanted to come the following week to film for half a day. We were so happy to get a second chance to make sure we could get across what we wanted to.
The telephone calls kept coming and Maria was asked so many different questions by different people from the company. They then said they would do a full day of filming and that the presenter would be there! We were very excited now, it was looking good! Maria managed to get out of them that the presenter was Andrew Lamberty from Four Rooms (Channel 4). Our nerves were appearing again!
The day came (after a good clean up on the Thursday!ha ha) and Maria let the film crew and presenter in around 9.30am. The other volunteers and myself arrived at about 10.30am to give them a chance to film the animals quietly and for Maria to give them a tour of the shelter.
When I arrived off the bus, I walked up to the shelter gate and spotted volunteer Jade hiding away in her grandad Malcolms car! She had been there a while and was afraid to go in!ha ha Cameraman Sam was at the gate and said it was fine for us to go in.
Maria was being filmed by cameraman Moby showing presenter Andrew around the shelter. They were in the top field, so Jade and I hurried inside to hide and suss the situation out!
Other volunteers Lee, John, Charlotte and Rachel arrived and we all sat outside on the goats trampoline to await our fate. We started playing with naughty boys Toffee and Fudge (the goats or the Krays as John calls them) and Charlotte had the good idea to brush Toffee as it seems to help calm him down.
I found us two brushes and we began to brush Toffee and Fudge. I think this helped calm us too! Cameraman Sam sneaked over and before we knew it, we had agreed to be filmed brushing the goats! At least we didn’t have to say anything!
When they had finished filming the tour with Maria, we all had a break and a hot drink. Cameraman Moby then made plans to film Maria introducing Andrew to the volunteers while we were doing certain things.
Lee was filmed feeding chickens and the goats and sheep along with Jade and myself helping. Then Charlotte and Rachel began feeding the rabbits and they filmed Maria taking Andrew to them, introducing him to them and he asked them some questions. They then did the same to Jade and me while we tickled the pigs (Blossom and Tammy) bellies and John was filmed doing something other than what he was supposed to be doing! He had to pretend he was doing something!ha ha
I think it went well even though there were still some things I didn’t get across and Jade was freaked out about what she had said!lol However, Maria was fantastic, really getting into the filming and enjoying it and I’m sure she got everything across that was needed. We just have to wait and see how they edit it all!
Maria was filmed the most, as it should be and much to our relief! She was filmed walking the goats with Andrew and various little scenes with him.
For lunch, the film crew went off to the pub in Probus and we had a bit of relaxing fun picking apples for Marias delicious preserves from her beautiful old apple tree. Lee climbed to the top and threw down some of the best apples and we had a game of dodge! We also had to compete for the apples with the naughty goats. They gobbled down as many as they could!
Jade then went mad with the apple branches on the ground behind the fence that had been pruned. She couldn’t stop chucking it all out for us to pile up for use later on. The rodents and rabbits love to gnaw on apple wood!
Opposite the shelter gate there is a building being converted into a house and they have ripped out a lot of the old wood. They had told us we were welcome to take whatever we wanted, so Jade went mad with this too!lol She took as much as she could and we piled it in a wheelbarrow to take into the shelter. This was a game of skill as we tried to get in the gates while avoiding Maria, Andrew and Moby who were trying to film them walking the goats. They gave us some strange looks! We got out of their way and had to wait until they were out of the gate and walking the goats up the village.
When they returned, and after our poor accountant Natalie (who was a bag of nerves) had a chat with them about the financial side of the shelter, Andrew did a quiet piece to camera by himself while cameraman Sam took Maria to the top field with the pigs and filmed her digging the wallow while she talked to him. Poor Maria was exhausted when she came back to us. She had tears in her eyes and then told us that 5 minutes ago, Andrew had said he had chosen us for the series! What a wonderful feeling!!!!
We then all had to go out to the front yard and be filmed saying Goodbye to Andrew. He shook our hands and gave us a kiss on the cheek one by one and we nearly wet ourselves laughing when John pretended to go for a kiss on the cheek!lol He was filmed going out of the gate and then we had to hold the position as they like to keep rolling for a few seconds after. It felt like forever!
Andrew loves Jonty
After filming the Goodbye, the crew agreed to have photos taken with us. Then Maria asked me if I would take Andrew to see Jonty the rabbit (up for rehoming!) as he really liked him and wanted to meet him. I didn’t realise Sam was going to film it!
I held Jonty for a moment to make sure he was calm and then asked if Andrew would like to hold him. To my embarassment, when passing Jonty to Andrew, my foot slipped into a hole! Jonty started kicking a bit but then calmed down in Andrews arms. I hope they edit it out!
We chatted with the crew for a little after finishing filming at about 5pm, very nice people, and they thanked us and we thanked them, then they gathered up all their equipment (there was a lot) and were gone.
We have been told that they will need to do a little more filming within the next couple of months, but without presenter Andrew, and then we can be seen on BBC2 next Spring!
We are not sure of what exactly it will be about and what they will name it, but we will let you know nearer the time! Maria thinks there could be some sort of surprise from the smiles on their faces!
It was a fun and tiring day, finished off with glorious sunshine. I think being in lovely sunny Cornwall helped us get through, along with the gorgeous animals and our lovely team, led by the beautiful hard working wonder that is Maria!
Our Sainsburys tin shake was a big success and we raised £186. A big thank you to everyone that donated money and also thanks to Jane, Lee and Linda for giving up their valuable time by helping me to achieve this.
Thank you to Sainsburys for letting us do our tin shake.
Maria and her volunteers are over the moon! We’ve been shortlisted for a new BBC production about small charities, they will be filming us next Thursday and then will choose six charities out of the ten shortlisted to be filmed in September and October. Hope we film well enough next week! Wish us luck!