OPEN DAY AT ALEXANDRA BASTEDO’S ABC ANIMAL SANCTUARY.
By Ann Evans
Photos Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
NEW INTRODUCTION FOR PHOTOGRAPHER ROB TYSALL’S FAVOURITE ARTICLE OF THE YEAR IN B-C-ING-U.
Photographer Rob Tysall of Tysall’s Photography and Words and Images UK who regularly supplies B-C-ing-U with a multitude of images, wanted to share his favourite article of the year.
“It just has to be Alexandra Bastedo’s ABC Animal Sanctuary article. They say never meet your heroes as they may not turn out to be what you expect. Well Alexandra was everything I expected her to be and more. I’m a big fan of anything to do with the 1960s – film, TV and collectables. And The Champions in which she starred was one of my favourite TV series along with the Avengers, Randle & Hopkirk and Roger Moore’s The Saint.
“Alexandra was intelligent, kind and immensely welcoming. She allowed writer Ann Evans and I into her animal sanctuary and talked openly about her life. It was a wonderful experience and it’s such a tragedy that she is no longer with us.”
Alexandra Bastedo was a champion in the 1960s battling against villains in the cult TV programme The Champions. In the 1980s she became a champion on behalf of the animal kingdom when she opened her home to unwanted animals from ducks to donkeys and from pigs to ponies. Sadly, Alexandra lost her own battle against cancer early in 2014.
Her ABC Animal Sanctuary continues however, thanks to her team of willing volunteers and dedicated fund raisers who work tirelessly to provide a safe haven for the many animals and birds who, through no fault of their own, find themselves homeless.
The sanctuary relies on the generosity of the public to continue its good work. And on Saturday 6th June and Sunday 7th June, they are holding their annual Open Day from 11am-4pm, to which everyone is invited.
There’s going to be fun for all the family. You can meet all the animals at the sanctuary; pet and groom ponies and donkeys; there will be Shetland pony races; live music; all kinds of craft, cake, books and toy stalls; candy floss, face painting; BBQ, curry and noodle stalls; children’s races, lucky dip and a free competition; Captain Jack Sparrow and Xena Warrior Princess will be in attendance – and lots more. Plus on the Sunday, there will be an open air animal blessing and parade of the animals at 12 noon, plus celebrity guests.
Go along, have a wonderful time and help to keep the ABC Animal Sanctuary to continue the charitable work that Alexandra began over 30 years ago.
Photographer, Rob Tysall and myself were immensely fortunate to have met Alexandra just a couple of years before she passed away, when she showed us around her sanctuary and chatted about how it all started.
Alexandra told us: “I have always had animals and always loved animals – but never on this scale of course. It began in quite a small way when a neighbour asked if I could take his ducks because his wife had cancer and he couldn’t cope with them any more. So we took his ducks. Then he said, can you take the donkey as well? So we took the donkey too.”
It wasn’t long before word of her kind heartedness had spread and more and more animals turned up at her door. Eventually Alexandra and her husband, theatre director, Patrick Garland, realised they needed more space to accommodate their ever growing family of ponies, donkeys, pot bellied pigs, pygmy goats, Longhorn sheep, cats, chickens and many other creatures. They moved to a new home with two and a half acres of farmland in West Sussex and created their cattery, paddocks and pens so that the animals could live in spacious and welcoming surroundings.
During our day with Alexandra, it was wonderful to see the rapport she had with all of her animals, who quite clearly trusted and loved her, even though many would have had a difficult start in life.
She also talked with gratitude about the army of willing volunteers and fund raisers who assisted her on a daily basis.
She knew every single animal by name, and the story behind each one’s arrival at the sanctuary. She also talked of the heartbreak of losing an animal, and told us of times she had stayed up all night with dying animals, comforting them in their last hours.
What she said to us them was so poignant. “In order to cope you have to concentrate on the living. These animals were all destined for the abattoir. If not for the sanctuary they wouldn’t be alive today and enjoying life – and I want the sanctuary to survive after I’ve gone.”
You can help the sanctuary through donations via the website, or visit it for yourself for a fabulous family day out at their Open Day on June 6th and 7th.
Alexandra’s co-star from The Champions, actor William Gaunt is one the sanctuary’s patrons along with Joanna Lumley, Pollyanna Pickering, Peter Egan, Virginia McKenna and Lorraine Chase. Sue Jameson is the sanctuary’s President.
ABC ANIMAL SANCTUARY OPEN DAY
Saturday 6th June and Sunday 7th June 2015 from 11am-4pm. Admission £4.95, accompanying children under 14 free.
Juggs Lane, West Chiltington, West Sussex RH20 2JS
For more information please visit: http://www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk