Many Hands Make Light Work!

Large Group of Volunteers To Help Us

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!

Volunteers with Marshall

Borrowed Tools

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.

Goat Walk

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!

Maria walking the goats with the volunteers
Maria walking the goats with the volunteers
Walking the goats
Walking the goats

Huge Thanks

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.

The volunteers from Cornwall Council
The volunteers from Cornwall Council

Keeley x

October 5, 2014Permalink

First Open Day at Marias Animal Shelter



Bright Idea

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.

charlotte doing the raffle
Charlotte doing the raffle


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

book stall
Just some of the books we turned out of the store room!


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.

Paul & Mum
Hazel at the front gate chatting to Marias husband Paul


Most visitors made a beeline for Maria and she had a good chat with lots of lovely people.

Maria chatting to visitors
Maria chatting to visitors



The refreshments proved hugely popular and Louise in the kitchen enjoyed them too, having sneaky bites here and there!

maria & louise in the kitchen
Maria watching Louise serve the refreshments
maria in the kitchen
Maria with some of the refreshments on offer
enjoying refreshments
Visitors enjoying refreshments


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!

chicken escapologist
naughty chicken walking along the fence looking for a way to escape her temporary enclosure

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.

Thank You

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?!


Keeley x

June 1, 2013Permalink

Success At Our Fun Charity Auction!


Wow! We had such a fun and successful evening on Friday 22nd March 2013 at the shelters fun charity auction. Here is a short blog about the night, apologies for no photos to accompany it, but I was too busy and even Jade didn’t manage to snap a quick one with her phone, as she was manning the tombola stall.

Edd the Auctioneer

After everyone arrived and had looked at the Lots up for auction and sat down ready and waiting, our volunteer auctioneer for the night, Edward Buckland (Edd), stood behind his impressive hand made rostrum and banged the gavel!

Immediately there was silence and Edd began to give a brief introduction of the shelter and the auction…then got straight into it with his fantastic auctioneering talent.

Maria Had Fun

Maria loved watching the auction from the back of the room and found it very entertaining to see her daughter and son competing over some of the Lots!

Natalie, the shelters volunteer accountant, and myself were busy noting down all winning bids for the Lots and register numbers of the winning bidders to make sure we were ready to take payments from the correct people at the end! We still had a laugh at the fun, though, and got a little distracted on occasions.

Happy John

The shelters volunteer handyman, John, was hiding when his Lot came up (3 hours of his work time). He really thought no one would bid for him! After realising that more than one person bid for him and that the winning bidder was to pay £35 to the shelter for his time, he suddenly appeared smiling and did a little ‘Ta Daaa’ pose!

Edds Giggles

A great moment when Edd got to the Lot for a full dog groom and began reading it out…suddenly he started to giggle and turned a little bit red when he realised he nearly read out that it includes an anal gland express!!

Very quickly he said ‘Well, we’ve all read the catalogue haha I’ve never had to sell one of those before’.

Busy End

As soon as the auction was over, people queued to pay before picking up their won Lots. Natalie and I coped brilliantly (I think! haha) with taking payments and making sure we noted down who paid and method of payment, etc. Thank you to Edd who sat for quite a time checking it all and making sure everything was correct.

There was only a brief time for chatting to everyone, but Maria enjoyed meeting all who came.

An Overwhelming Gift To Me

I was overwhelmed when a lovely lady walked over to me and said ‘Hi Keeley, I’m Pat…nice to meet you and I have present for you’. I opened a folded piece of paper to see a beautiful etching (just like the one up for auction) of Marshall the goat. Pat knew I liked her work so much, she decided to give me one of her etchings! Pat Grove made my night! Thank you, Pat.

A Catch Up With Volunteers

It was so lovely for Maria and myself to meet up with volunteers we do not see very often and even a volunteer we have been out of touch with for way too long, Stella, came and made us all smile. We’ve missed her at the shelter and it was good to see her. She trained me at the shelter when I started volunteering in 2010 and I am very grateful to her.

A Huge Thank You

Thank you so very very much to all who donated Lots, all who helped organise and on the night, to Edd the auctioneer, Tony (who offered his skills at showing Lots during the auction and used his booming voice for the raffle!), Probus Comrades Club for allowing us to hold the event there and then donating the club fee to the shelter…..and last but not least to all who attended, bid and donated to the shelter, THANK YOU!

You all helped to raise an amazing grand total of £1300 for Marias Animal Shelter – hugs and kisses all round! xxxxxx

A great night and we will definitely think about another in the near future!

Keeley x


March 27, 2013Permalink

A Busy Valentines Day at Marias Animal Shelter

Surprise Filming

I found Maria at the shelter cleaning the indoor animals and in a bit of a confused state worrying about the busy day ahead and having to be filmed! After being told they had finished all the filming, they phoned Maria and told her they were coming again! The film crew were due at 11am, so we all quickly set to work. I helped Maria clean the indoor animals and then all of a sudden the film crew arrived peering over the door. Cameras and microphones were quickly set up and they began filming presenter Andrew Lamberty at the front gate. We carried on cleaning and then I had to take four female guinea pigs up to the top field and introduce them to the outside guinea pigs (many females living with one very lucky male called Howard!). By the time I got back, the film crew (presenter, director and cameraman) were in the room talking Maria through what they would like to do, so I had to wait outside and play with the goats until they came out and headed towards the top field. I then could carry on with cleaning indoor animals.

The lucky neutered male guinea pig, Howard, who lives in a big house with lots of females
The lucky neutered male guinea pig, Howard, who lives in a big house with lots of females
The 4 guinea pigs I took to the top field to introduce to Howard and the other females, from left:Olive, Candy, Lucy, Megan
The 4 guinea pigs I took to the top field to introduce to Howard and the other females, from left:Olive, Candy, Lucy, Megan

Sssh Filming in Progress

While they were filming Maria, Morgan arrived and Maria asked him to tidy up the big animals housing, yards and paths, however, as soon as he began to sweep he heard ‘ssshhhh, be quiet, we’re filming’, so headed down to help me for a while. I groomed Louis, a dear old rabbit that has arthritis and has just lost the last of his two girls and put him outside in a new hutch and pen. He now has a lower hutch without a ramp, so he can easily get in and out. Morgan then headed off to do the hay nets and was startled to find himself being filmed! I think John and James also got caught on camera while working.


Maria said they were working on the continuity and asked her to wear the same pink gloves as she was wearing last time and they wanted her to remember where they filmed her talking to Andrew last September!! Its hard to remember what happened five minutes ago sometimes at the shelter! They turned her into a little actress, as she was directed to do things like just standing and nodding with Andrew, which she found hilarious and I can’t wait to see!
Just before we stopped for a break at lunch time, Sam the cameraman wanted to film me doing something with the rabbits, so I just went in and gave some their dry food,  but he dropped his microphone in the mud and had to stop. I think most of his equipment became caked in mud…..he’ll never film at an animal shelter again!

No Rest for the Wicked

Maria had just sat down and had one sip of coffee and a little nibble when a couple arrived to look at the guinea pigs, as they wanted to choose another female to rehome with the one they already had. Maria went off to the top field with them and then the film crew started packing up. They had said they would do a little more filming of us all working or saying goodbye to Andrew or something, but I think they had to go and catch their flight back to London. I had to go and find Maria, as she was still wearing her microphone! Maria went back to them and I took over with the couple who chose a lovely guinea pig called Lucy, one that I had only just taken to the outside house that morning. I took them back to the room to write down their details and found that the film crew had left, so Maria took over again.

Finally a break for Maria

The couple left and Maria finally sat down to drink her coffee and eat the rest of her lunch while watching the rest of us prepare the animal food. She told us that the new BBC 2 series ‘Auction Hero’ has been brought forward, so now it will be shown in March! Really hoping it won’t be during our fun auction evening on 22nd March!! She also said that she had cheekily asked Andrew lamberty to be the shelters patron! He kindly agreed, so we will be allowed to mention him in publicity from now on.

Andrew Lamberty, the new patron for Marias Animal Shelter
Andrew Lamberty, the new patron for Marias Animal Shelter


After feeding the animals, Maria and I were washing the bowls when a potential new volunteer arrived to have a look around, so off she went again. After showing the volunteer around and saying goodbye, a lady arrived to choose a neutered male rabbit to rehome with her female and a young lady arrived with two male guinea pigs for us to find a new home for. Maria showed the lady to the rabbits and I dealt with the young lady and guinea pigs. The two male guinea pigs had been rescued by her from a home where they had been mistreated and had to hand them over to us to find the best new home for them. I asked her to fill out the entry form, while I put them in their new temporary housing. Meanwhile, Maria came in and started to fill out the rehoming form for the lady who had chosen her new male rabbit. I saw the young lady out and then another lady arrived with a hamster for us to take in, a sweet little female Syrian hamster called Boris. Another entry form was to be filled out. The lady taking the male rabbit then fell in love with two gorgeous male guinea pigs called Basil and Dumbo and decided to take them too! Maria then had to fill out the rehoming form for them.
We chatted about the animals for a while and then saw both out.

Dev, the handsome neutered male was rehomed
Dev, the handsome neutered male was rehomed
Also rehomed were the gorgeous Basil and Dumbo, the lady couldn't resist!
Also rehomed were the gorgeous Basil and Dumbo, the lady couldn’t resist!
Zac & Zingy, the two male guinea pigs that were rescued from being mistreated
Zac & Zingy, the two male guinea pigs that were rescued from being mistreated
valentines day at shelter 2013 011
Boris, the sweet female Syrian hamster that came into the shelter

Vet call while on toilet break

Maria had been meaning to take me up to the public toilet (still waiting to hear about being able to get one at shelter) right after lunch, but it didn’t work out that way! We only now had the chance to go. Maria had to telephone the vet while we were there because Oliver, the little goat we recently rescued, has not been eating properly and getting thin. The vet asked for us to take his temperature, so Maria had to pop up to her house, pick up a thermometer and take us back down to the shelter. While we were gone, Morgan, James and John had been busy tidying and finishing up.

Temperature Time

John distracted Toffee (who was trying to get Marias attention) and Maria and James restrained Oliver while I took his temperature. It was 39.5 C, which the vet said is normal, so it couldn’t be an infection. The vet said he would come and have a look at him the next day. After using Marias own thermometer from home, we found the animal one in the medicine cupboard! I told Maria she was welcome to take the thermometer back home and use (with a grin on my face), but she wisely said we can now have two for the animals.

Olivers First Walk

After I had quickly taken some photos of new guinea pigs and the hamster for rehoming, Maria decided to take the goats for a walk with Oliver on his first walk since arriving at the shelter. James and John took the leads of Toffee and Fudge and Maria took Oliver with a lovely red lead that matched her coat! We went on a lovely little short walk finding some lovely fresh grass for them to enjoy and a hedge full of ivy and brambles to browse. Maria, John and James started to get a little bored just standing around waiting for the goats to finish munching before moving on. Oliver really enjoyed the grass and a few brambles, so we hope the vet can get to the bottom of why he is not eating the food we give him.

Oliver enjoying a hedge
Oliver enjoying a hedge
John, James and Maria looking bored while the goats have a good time eating the hedge
John, James and Maria looking bored while the goats have a good time eating the hedge
Toffee and Fudge enjoying some grass on their walk
Toffee and Fudge enjoying some grass on their walk
Oliver enjoying the fresh grass on his first walk
Oliver enjoying the fresh grass on his first walk
The goats trimming the grass in someones garden
The goats trimming the grass in someones garden
On the way back to the shelter
On the way back to the shelter


Home Time

When back in the shelter, Maria put Oliver to bed and James and I had to leave her and John putting the other animals to bed so that we could catch our bus and have a welcome sit down!

Poor Maria

I don’t know how Maria copes with so much. She constantly has busy days like this, sometimes without the help of volunteers and it doesn’t stop when she gets home. There are constant phone calls, text messages, Emails and messages on the Facebook page to be answered. She also works 5 nights a week and makes delicious preserves to sell and make money for the shelter. An amazing and inspirational woman. Please have patience if your questions are not answered straight away, but the busy lady will get back to you!haha

Keeley x

February 18, 2013Permalink

BBC2 series set to feature Marias Animal Shelter, Cornwall next Spring!

BBC2 series set to feature Marias Animal Shelter, Cornwall next Spring!

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!

The Test

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.

Bombarding Maria

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!

Friday Filming

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!


Lee throwing apples from the tree to Rachel, Jade, Fudge the goat, Charlotte and John (who ate a fair few apples himself!)
Maria grabbing apples for her preserves in a rare spare moment



The laughing apple scrumper

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!!!!

Goodbye Andrew

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!

Job Done

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!

From Left: John, Charlotte, Jade, Rachel, Keeley, presenter Andrew Lamberty, Maria holding grandson Kaiden, Moby, Sam and Tammy


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!

That was a big first Blog! Hope you enjoyed it.

Keeley x

September 23, 2012Permalink