Don’t forget us! East Anglia’s animal rescue centres in need of a helping hand

Andrea Gamby-Boulger, founder of Wetnose Animal Aid, with a trustee from Fritton Owl Sanctuary. Pict

Andrea Gamby-Boulger, founder of Wetnose Animal Aid, with a trustee from Fritton Owl Sanctuary. Picture: Wetnose - Credit: Archant

A pet is not just for lockdown…but they can often become the forgotten victims of 2020. Derek James takes a look at how the pandemic is causing a crisis among the rescue centres

Amanda Holden sporting the nose to support Wetnose Animal Aid. Amanda Holden. Picture: Supplied by W

Amanda Holden sporting the nose to support Wetnose Animal Aid. Amanda Holden. Picture: Supplied by Wetnose Animal Aid - Credit: Wetnose Animal Aid

From hedgehogs to horses. Our companions come in all shapes and sizes….but many of them have one thing in common. They need and deserve our support in so many different ways.

On the Norfolk/Suffolk border is Wetnose Animal Aid, set up 20 years ago by Andrea and Gavin Gamby-Boulgar, which does wonderful work giving vital help rescue centres far and wide.

There are being people who, for one reason or another, leave their pets at rescue centres and then take off – without a second thought about where the money comes from to look after them.

Others have been abandoned and abused in appalling ways.

The late Gavin Gamby-Boulger with Humphrey in need of love in Bulgaria. Photo: Supplied by Wetnose

The late Gavin Gamby-Boulger with Humphrey in need of love in Bulgaria. Photo: Supplied by Wetnose Animal Aid - Credit: Supplied by Wetnose Animal Aid

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This is where Wetnose, which has a shop in Hungate at Beccles, and is based at nearby Stockton comes in.

Gavin sadly died but Andrea is carrying on and expanding the work supporting centres across East Anglia, the country and the world – from Harleston to the Phillippines.

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And she needs our help.

“Things were bad with the credit crunch in 2008 but this is on another level completely,” said Andrea.

“Accidents and illnesses don’t stop during a crisis – not even for animals and wildlife.

“Not only are our animal rescue centres not getting in funds from the government but they have had to cancel fundraising events for this year which can mean thousands of pounds in lost revenue.

“Although charity shops may have opened, it will take months to recover from this awful pandemic,” said Andrea.

“After what has been the worst year for a long time for many people and families across the country, the same goes for our poor animals and wildlife,” she added.

“Many rescue centres had to close from the middle of March until September, with a 60 per cent reduction of their revenue. Animal charity shops had to close, less staff working, but the rescue work was still going ahead,” said Andrea.

The dry weather in July and August meant that horses needed hay to eat as there was no grass, so more funds were needed to replace winter hay.

“Baby animals were being bought on the internet but when people went back to work, they were giving them to the rescue centres, so once again they were picking up the pieces,”

“Every September,” said Andrea, “Wetnose Animal Aid has a fundraising day to help rescue centres but sadly this year we only raised £10,000, the year before it was £48,600 and in 2017 more than £37,000. It just shows how bad things will be for next year.”

She looked at how the pandemic has been hitting the work of rescue centres near and far.

One in Norfolk said it had had about 450 more animals and birds in over the lockdown than the same time last year. Around 1,200 came in between March and September.

That included about 130 hedgehogs and the average cost for a hog is £45. Last year they had around 50 kittens come in, many to hand rear, and the cost of rehoming one is about £120.

As a wildlife sanctuary their aim to is rescue, rehabilitate and return to the wild or rehome as many animals and birds as they can. Sadly this is not always possible and the sanctuary becomes their home.

The monthly feed bill is around £3,500 with donations and it is estimated they lost £10,000 alone for not being able to hold jumble sales. Other animal sanctuaries across Norfolk, such as Hallswood and Pact, also reported major problems resulting from having to close their doors and stiop vital fund-raising events…stressing that looking after animals and wildlife costs money which has stopped coming in.

And the Venture Farm Cat Rescue had to close its charity shop in Dereham – their main source of income and cancel fund-raising events.

It is the same for centres everywhere and Wetnose is doing what it can…with dwindling funds

For example:

Several hundred pounds to Bodmin Moor Pony Rehabilitation which is facing the biggest crisis in its history with large numbers of starving and dying semi feral ponies.

Giving £500 towards paying off the vet’s bill at Pup Cakes Rescue in Lincolnshire and the same again at the Remus Horse Sanctuary in Essex.

And so on…there is no end to the call for help from our wonderful animals centres and we should all be so proud of the work being done by Wetnose whose ambassadors include Lorraine Chase and Vicky Michelle MBE and dog rescuer and star of Crufts with Kratu, Tessa Earle Swan.

“Urgent donations are needed to help the centres who have lost so much money. Even though the charity shops may have opened and the tills are ringing once again, if donations are not given to our forgotten heroes, some may have to close by Christmas,” said Andrea.

Wetnose has handed out more than £7,000 in the last three months but it needs to double that figure. As it says…helping one hoof, paw, claw at a time…and what a sad time it is

The rescue centre stories are on their website at and the address is 2 Wells Terrace, Bungay Road, Stockton, Norfolk NR34 0HR, or you can pop into the shop at Hungate in Beccles.

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