Open Day 2017

My goodness, what a great day we had on Sunday at our Open Day. Someone, somewhere was looking after us as the sun shone until about 10 minutes after the last person left and then the heavens opened. We couldn’t have asked for better. The volunteers were brilliant arriving from early hours, many having spent the last few weeks setting up, cleaning up, and generally making the Sanctuary look amazing. The first of around 400 people started arriving from 12 noon and one of the early arrivals was Eamonn Holmes himself. What a lovely man who was so generous with his time for his whole visit. Jenny took him around showing him all that was to be seen and then everyone headed up to the pond to see it officially opened.

The whole area looked wonderful with the path laid, flowers and trees planted, water feature in full flow and the hand crafted bridge standing proudly as a centrepiece. Many thanks must go to everyone who worked so hard to get everything right and especially Graham for the ground work and the water feature, Nik and Vanessa for the beautiful bridge and Di and Nicky for all the landscaping. Not forgetting the Duke of Edinburgh students who sowed the lawn and the corporate team from Allianz who laid the path and started the planting.

Jenny spoke with her usual passion thanking everyone for their part in bringing the pond and bridge to fruition. She then introduced Eamonn who made a lovely speech, praising the charity and recognising the work that it does and then paying tribute to the team for their work in making everything so beautiful. He also spoke of the importance of this pond for so many reasons and then with great aplomb and to much applause, he cut the ribbon and he and Jenny led everyone over the bridge for the first time. It was quite emotional for Jenny, who has had dreams of this pond for many years and finally it is here. Eamonn then spent time chatting to the visitors and posing for seemingly, endless selfies – such a generous man and a real star.

The pond has been funded by the Community Foundation for Surrey, with awards being made by the Orchid Environmental Trust Fund and the Dora Fedoruk Memorial Fund. It promises to become a really important feature of the Sanctuary, with its hand-crafted bridge and tumbling water feature – it will act as a balancing pond to improve site drainage, become a haven for wildlife and enable pond dipping for children and additional needs visitors. Perhaps even more importantly, it will provide a place of peace and serenity for our many volunteers and supporters to sit surrounded by horses and nature – a moment of respite from a busy world.

And then it was off on the tours led by Jenny and the grooms. The horses as always were the stars of the day. The shetties happily welcomed young visitors into their field to accept rubs, scratches and posed to have their photos taken! The family, especially, loved all the attention. Overall, we were very proud of all 31 of our residents.

Elsewhere, there were stalls to visit and spend money on, games for the children to play, bottle tombola and lucky pony to try their luck at. Tony & the Davies Family were kept busy flipping burgers and sausages to feed our visitors, whilst others served liquid refreshments and plenty of cakes and cream teas were consumed, donated by the Cream Tea Society. Our new merchandise shop was very busy on its first Open Day and our home grown organic produce by Rosie proved a great hit.

Meanwhile, Jack Skylark entertained visitors by carving a kingfisher out of a lump of oak with his chainsaw. And all the while, everyone was entertained by the band, Boxa, who kept things rocking in the orchard! It really was a wonderful day and for the star spotters, mingling with the crowds were actors Sara Crowe and Vicki Michelle along with comedian Hilary O’Neil, Proclaimers guitarist, Zac Ware and Truly Ford, semi finalist on ‘The Voice’.

Jenny was thrilled with everything and spoke afterwards, “I was so proud to be able to show our supporters and new visitors around our Sanctuary. We have come on such a journey and my dream of having a pond is the last piece of the puzzle, which now means that we are really ready to welcome community groups, schools and those with additional needs to come and share our horses and their tranquil and peaceful home. I am immensely grateful to Eamonn for giving up his time to come and officially open it for us.”

It was another hugely successful Open Day with some extra money in the coffers, some new horse sponsors and volunteers signed up and many new supporters to the charity. We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors who made the day possible and more importantly, to our staff and volunteers for making the Sanctuary possible.

Many thanks to Andy Newbold and Jac Flint for the fabulous photographs