Please help Poppy!

Poppy is no ordinary dog.

She has an extraordinary zest for life which is really quite inexplicable given the pain she has been putting up with for quite some time now.  In addition to this, poor Poppy has also been passed from pillar to post by a series of owners in her three years’ of life, allowing her illnesses to go untreated and the severity of her pain to go undetected, until now on her arrival at Ferne.

“Poppy really stands out as one of the most adorable, friendly and loving dogs we have ever cared for at Ferne” commented Animal Care Manager, Tara.  “She has never had a permanent home or family, has lived with excruciating pain and yet she just doesn’t have a bad side to her.  It’s as though she’s put her total trust in us to make her better, wagging her tail even as we give her medicine or take her to the Vets.  Without a doubt, she has won all of our hearts here.”

Soon after her arrival, it turned out that finding a home for Poppy was the least of her problems as our early suspicions about ligament problems in her hind legs were confirmed.  It also transpired that these were very serious, not least as one ligament had already ruptured, causing much pain for quite some time. Additionally, she also has problems in both knees, her hips and her spine. Without treatment, there is no doubt the only option would be euthanasia, as she could not live a life of any comfort or longevity as she is currently. Thankfully however, all her conditions are treatable, allowing Poppy to have a pain free, happy and long life, but at a cost.

“Poppy has multiple orthopaedic injuries but is a happy and loving dog considering the amount of pain she must be in. She has had multiple homes in her short life and although we are unable to get her veterinary history, I believe that her orthopaedic disease is the reason she has had so many homes Samantha Lane, Veterinary Surgeon BVSc BSAVA PGCert(SAS) MRCVS.

Ferne has undertaken to fund Poppy’s first operation this week, to relieve some of Poppy’s immediate pain.  However, after that she will still require subsequent operations, medication for inflammation and pain, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to strengthen her muscles and joints, which will cost approximately £4,000.  To urgently raise the money for this, we are asking for your help by donating to ‘Poppy’s Appeal

Whatever you can donate will help towards giving Poppy a whole new life ahead which can be a long, happy and comfortable one, which this top dog undoubtedly deserves.


Surge in abandoned kittens and pregnant cats

Due to a surge of abandoned kittens and pregnant cats, Ferne is desperately needing help to expand its services to provide a Special Care Cat Unit to cope with the high volume of cats needing help.

In the last month alone, over 20 abandoned kittens have been taken into the care of Ferne Animal Sanctuary.

Every year the problem becomes more severe, and with kitten season in full flow, sadly this year has already reached a critical level and Ferne is struggling to accommodate the ever increasing numbers. This also includes kittens from heavily pregnant mothers, also dumped with less than days to go until they gave birth.

It has become so bad now that they are quite literally bursting at the seams. Both catteries are full and extreme measures have been required in the form of using the Sanctuary’s animal surgery area, which is far from ideal.

Tara Nirula, Rehoming Manager is appealing to anyone considering adopting a feline into their family: ‘We are urgently looking for loving homes with people who can give these kittens a second chance in life. The owners must have patience and commitment but most of all, lots of love to give.’

If you can help with either a donation of money or the offer of a good home, we’d love to hear from you.

Anyone wishing to adopt kittens is asked to call the Sanctuary on 01460 65214 to discuss suitability and to arrange a viewing appointment. A pre-home check will be conducted before any animals are released into the adopter’s care.

If you are unable to adopt a kitten from Ferne but you would like to help, you can donate towards their Special Care Cat Unit appeal. Steph Sterndale-Bennett, Fundraising Manager explains more: ‘We are currently undertaking a 12-month appeal for funds to help us build a special care unit which will enable us to accommodate more cats and kittens in need of extra TLC in the years to come. This is becoming increasingly important as we are finding ourselves at maximum capacity more and more frequently.’

The Special Care Cat Unit will cost £195,000 to build and will complement the top class care that Ferne Animal Sanctuary provides to the animals 365 days of the year. To donate please visit the ‘Donate Now’ page of our website.

Sunflower Challenge is on!

Ferne Animal Sanctuary has thrown down the gauntlet to Primary School children within a 40-mile radius of Chard to see just how green their fingers are by growing the tallest sunflower.

To help them on their way, Otter Nurseries are generously providing Ferne with free packets of sunflower seeds to give away to schools who’d like to take part.

“All you have to do to get started is get in touch with the Sanctuary and arrange to collect your free seed packets” said Elaine Hayes, Chief Executive of Ferne. “After that, it’s over to you to sow your sunflower seeds and nurture them through until the end of the summer term.  Hopefully by then you will have towering plants!”

When you’ve got the tallest plant in your class or school, we’d like you to photograph and measure it and send in the winning photo and measurements to Ferne by the 1st of August.  The winner will receive a free annual family pass for Ferne, so they can come along anytime and enjoy our walks, wildlife and delicious treats in the café.

As an added bonus, no matter how tall or small your plant is, if you bring it along in person to the Sanctuary, you can see for yourself how it encourages the birds to forage for food in the aviary as they would in their natural habitat.

Otter Nurseries Marketing Manager, Sabine Taylor said: “We are always keen to encourage the younger generation to start growing, and sunflowers are such a favourite with even the youngest gardeners, as they can give such spectacular results.

“We are delighted to support Ferne Animal Sanctuary in this way, and hope the animals enjoy all the sunflower seeds later in the year.”

Although sunflowers aren’t native to the UK, they’ve become quite an iconic vision of summer thanks to their flamboyant appearance.  They are also a firm favourite for our aviary residents as they provide a very tasty snack!

Top tips to help you on your way…

  • Sunflowers need full sun and are heavy feeders
  • Big pots are good as they have long taproots
  • Water and feed regularly, but don’t pour directly onto roots
  • Tell them your best jokes and sing them your favourite songs

If you’d like to take part and get your free seed packets, phone Ferne on 01460 65214 or email us on

New Trail at Ferne

A new plaque rubbing trail at Ferne Animal Sanctuary, provided by Bovis Homes, has just been launched and put to the test by pupils of Buckland St Mary C of E Primary School.

The accessible trail meanders throughout the Sanctuary from the grassed play area of the Gazebo, through the woodland with the Lily and Dragonfly ponds and past the play equipment area, finishing outside the café.

Jenny Wheadon, Head of External Funding for Ferne said, “The plaque rubbing trail at Ferne will be a welcome new addition to our many visiting families.  It’s a lovely accessible walk in all weathers and will now also provide a great opportunity to create a memory of Ferne’s wildlife to take home.  We are grateful to Bovis Homes for kindly providing these plaques and delighted that the students of Buckland St Mary had so much fun giving them a trial run.”

The engraved plaques were designed by local wildlife artist Patrick Moran and include pictures of a frog, toadstool, ferns, kingfisher, deer, oak and acorn.

The plaque rubbings were kindly provided by Bovis Homes as an added attraction to for the many visitors from the local community and beyond to enjoy whilst visiting Ferne…..

Puppies Helped By Local Companies

Image: Puppy Molly

Photo credit: Ferne Animal Sanctuary

An influx of hungry puppies just before Christmas to Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Wambrook, near Chard, Somerset saw companies in Chard, Taunton, Axminster, Tiverton and Yeovil jumping to the rescue to help with additional supplies.

Jenny Wheadon, Head of External Funding said: “Twelve little cherubs were brought into Ferne in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. As they were with us over the festive period, we used up our puppy food very quickly, so had to send out an appeal for help. The response we received was amazing.

“On behalf of Ferne Animal Sanctuary, I would like to sincerely thank Pets at Home in Taunton and Tiverton, Crown Pet Foods Castle Cary, Mole Avon Axminster and also express our appreciation for the general donation of goods for the animals at Christmas to Prenax Ltd of Yeovil and Numatic International of Chard.”

First for Ferne

Novice bread makers had a very productive day with Head Chef, Richard Kingdon at the inaugural bread making masterclass at Ferne.

Under Richard’s excellent guidance, attendees learned the skills of making focaccia, gluten free bread and some delicious sour dough bread.

Admiring the fantastic results of the day, Masterclass chef Richard said, “It was a really enjoyable morning of baking.  Everyone learned a lot, including myself.  The feedback has been so good that we are already planning a programme of cookery events throughout the year at Ferne.”

Bread making student, Alyson Rogers commented that, “The course was absolutely brilliant.  Richard is an excellent teacher and he guided us through the various steps in a really relaxed and informative way. Ferne is also such a lovely place to come and do a course like this. I can’t wait for the next class.”

Elaine Hayes, Director of Ferne Animal Sanctuary said, “We’re delighted at the success of this first workshop.  All fundraising events are invaluable to help with the vital upkeep of unwanted domestic pets and farm animals, either before re-homing or for their long term care at Ferne.”

Special thanks also to Darts Farm who kindly donated the flour for the bread baking workshop.

Following on from this success, the next Learn at Ferne workshop, ‘Posh Nosh Dessert Masterclass’ is scheduled for Thursday 25th February.  This masterclass will take you through the skills and tricks to prepare restaurant standard desserts, including meringues, hazelnut panacotta, the perfect mousse and praline crumb and caramel. There are limited places (tickets £30), so please book early to reserve your place with Sarah on 01460 67587.

Image top: Chef Richard Kingdon and his Bread Baking Students. Image middle: Alyson Rogers making Foccacia

Learn at Ferne – Cookery Workshops

Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Wambrook, near Chard, Somerset are inviting everyone, whatever their ability, to come along and learn how to bake bread with their resident chef, Richard Kingdon.

Participants will learn how to prepare and cook varieties including Irish soda bread, focaccia and gluten free.

Chef Richard said: “I’m really looking forward to running these cookery classes. It’s a new and educational activity which should also be great fun for all involved.”

Sarah Jackson, event organiser said: “The cookery classes are aimed at adults which add a new and different element to our programme of events here at Ferne.

“This is a great opportunity to learn and our chef Richard will teach participating bakers how to get their dough to rise to the occasion.”

The event is on Thursday, 28th January from 10am to 1pm. Cost is £20 per person and only open to the first 10 applicants. All equipment and ingredients are included. Full payment is required on booking and is non-refundable.

“A second session is planned for Thursday, 25th February. This will be ‘Dessert Craft’ where participants will learn how to create restaurant quality desserts. This workshop will be £30 per person inclusive”, added Sarah.

“The classes will help raise money for us to care for the animals we have on site and will be particularly well received as we are currently fund raising to build a special care cat unit.”

“All cookery workshop bookings should be made direct to me on 01460 67587 or by email to

Animals are not just for Christmas!

 Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Wambrook, near Chard, Somerset is offering some sound advice for people looking to give an animal as a Christmas present.

Nikki Haddock, Animal Care Manager said: “We have all heard the mantra, ‘A dog is for life not just for Christmas’. It is repeated so often that one might think that the message surely must have sunk in.  Yet you can be sure that animal shelters the length and breadth of the UK will be thinking about preparing for the influx of unwanted animals of all kinds given as Christmas presents.”

All this fun and excitement can take its toll on staff at animal sanctuaries like Ferne. So imagine how a new pet, who may have recently been taken away from its mother and siblings and a familiar environment feels.

“Toilet training a young animal needs routine and eyes in the back of your head!  Feeding needs to be at regular times, training needs to be consistent and is more effective with few distractions.  There are also many tasty, festive treats which may get accidentally dropped or left within easy reach of your pet which may be harmful to them”, continued Nikki.

“If you are looking for a new addition to your family, maybe consider sponsorship of an animal as a Christmas gift and look at adoption once you are back into your usual routine and can give the time a new pet will need to settle into your home and lifestyle. This would be less stressful for the pet – and you!

“Everyone at Ferne Animal Sanctuary wishes all readers a Happy Christmas and would like to say a huge thank-you for the support we receive.  Without it, we simply would not be able to help those animals who need us.”

Ferne Plan to Expand

In their 75th year of helping animals, much loved charity Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Wambrook, near Chard are looking to improve and expand their current facilities.

Plans to build four new buildings on their current site are shortly to be submitted for approval. These will include a new agricultural building and storage shed. Both are urgently needed to house all the wonderful donations the Sanctuary receives from the general public.

In addition, the application will include plans for a new Visitor Centre, which will provide a much needed meeting room and exhibition space.

The fourth building will be for a new cat Special Care Unit for strays and nursing queens.

Elaine Hayes, CEO at Ferne Animal Sanctuary said: “It’s hard to believe that the doors of the Sanctuary were opened 75 years ago; everyone here is very proud that we still continue to make a difference by helping animals and communities.

“Our plans for expansion are yet another very exciting time for all the staff, volunteers and supporters of Ferne.

“We will shortly be launching an appeal for the cat Special Care Unit as this will be a very expensive building, full of the latest technology. This new facility will enable us to look after the cats to the highest possible standards. ”