Last weekend I visited Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary in Asheldham, Essex, England. This is the nearest farm animal sanctuary to me, so I wanted to check it out and meet some of the animals. I was also really excited to meet Fiona Oakes, who runs the sanctuary with her partner, Martin. It was a cold, rainy day which made me realise that running a sanctuary of over 400 rescued animals couldn’t be easy.
Fiona is a dedicated marathon runner and a committed vegan. She challenges the myth that vegans are weak and do not have the same strength as carnivores, and does so by completing extreme marathons, for which she trains every single day. Since 2013, she is the fastest woman in the world to run a marathon on all seven continents, she has even completed marathons in destinations such as the North Pole!
Fiona leads by example, and promotes a vegan diet by showing the world that living vegan certainly doesn’t mean being weak; quite the contrary.
Fiona has set up The Fiona Oakes Foundation which enables people to support her marathons, so she can continue to widely promote the vegan message, and in turn help the animals she cares for. Take a look at The Fiona Oakes Foundation website for more information about her running adventures.
At the heart of all Fiona’s fantastic achievements and everything she does, is the animals. After meeting her, I felt completely astounded that such a dedicated athlete could also care for over 400 rescued animals! Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary is where animals in need are provided with a safe, loving home, free from the torments they endured in their previous lives.
A lot of the animals living at Tower Hill are unwanted and the person previously caring for them is no longer able to do so. A large number are also victims of the meat industry. Fiona explained that many of the animals living at the sanctuary were regarded as ‘spent’ by slaughterhouses. This means that, as a profit can no longer be made from them, they are no longer of ‘use’ to the industry. This is often the case with chickens who are no longer able to lay eggs. By keeping a civil relationship with some of the slaughterhouse workers, instead of ‘disposing’ of these animals, they have been handed over to Fiona who cares for them at Tower Hill. I was touched to see these animals that were once deemed as worthless, to be thriving here, and enjoying the rest of their days in peace.
There were quite a few horses at the sanctuary, and one who was impossible to miss was Rupert. Rupert is by far and away the biggest horse I have ever seen. He was rescued from the meat industry, and is known as a ‘gentle giant’ due to his kind nature.
William unfortunately was no longer wanted due to having lost an eye, but now lives happily at Tower Hill.
Winston and company show how different types of animals become friends at Tower Hill. Just like people, these animals want to live freely, and are now finally able to do so.
Spotty is a new addition to the sanctuary, but seems to have settled in very quickly.
Luckily, Stan was on hand to over-see the tour of the sanctuary. Stan is one of the Christmas rescue turkeys – one of fifteen who were saved after being destined for Christmas Dinner. They now live happily at the sanctuary.
‘Cosy corner’ was another part of the sanctuary where different animals team together to enjoy each other’s company.
By the end of the visit, I could see that caring for a sanctuary with this number of rescued animals in all kids of weather conditions was definitely a challenge. Fiona explained that a huge amount of money goes on veterinary bills, as well as everything else needed to keep the sanctuary up and running, and care for the animals.
You can help to support Fiona Oakes and Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary by visiting the following links:
Fiona Oakes Foundation: http://www.fionaoakesfoundation.co.uk
Watch the new video ‘Fiona Oakes – For The Animals’
Fiona Oakes is a huge inspiration and, having recently started running myself, I will be taking part in a sponsored run later this year to raise money for Tower Hill. I hope you will join me in supporting such a dedicated sanctuary, empowered by an incredible advocate for animals.