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

Volunteer Cornwall Organises Team of Volunteers from Cornwall Council to help Marias Animal Shelter

Volunteer Cornwall Organises Team of Volunteers from Cornwall Council to help Marias Animal Shelter

A Bright Idea

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.

Early Start

Meeting the sheep bright and early before work began

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!

Naughty goats Fudge and Toffee making friends with the volunteers from Cornwall Council

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.”

Working on the gate for the new pig field
Let me get this straight!

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.”

The beautiful brand new fence and gate for the pigs new field. Blossom and Tammy in background enjoying their new field.
Tammy and Blossom enjoying their new field behind the beautiful new fence built by volunteers from Cornwall Council
Volunteers from Cornwall Council showing off their almost complete fence in Toffee and Fudges section of the shelter

Many Thanks

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”

Maria (far right) with the Volunteers from Cornwall Council

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 martinw@volunteercornwall.org.uk

Keeley x with contributions from Martin Webb
Photos by Martin Webb


October 2, 2012Permalink

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