Royal Visit for Remus Horse Sanctuary

HM Lord Lieutenant for Essex, Lord Petre (Patron) and Dena Schwartz, Zoopharmacognosist, trustees and staff of Remus Horse Sanctuary, were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex and many local dignitaries to the Sanctuary on Wednesday 14 October for a VIP Invitation Day.

The Countess, who joined the charity as a Patron in 2013, visited the Sanctuary for a tour of the facilities, and to learn more about horse rescue and Remus’ contribution to the local community and economy.  Seventy other local dignitaries, including: Mr Vincent Thompson (High Sheriff of Essex) and Mrs Diana Thompson, Councillor Norman Hume (Chairman of Essex County Council) and Mrs Veronica Hume, Councillor Paul Hitchinson (Mayor of Chelmsford City Council) and Mr Ali Nurad, Chief Constable, Police Crime Commissioner, local Councillors and Members of Parliament also enjoyed the tour, presentations and lunch which took place in a marquee at the Sanctuary.

On behalf of the Sanctuary, 11 year-old Katie Tosko, a local young volunteer, presented The Countess with a posy of flowers, kindly donated by Billericay florist – Always Flowers.

The day was organised by Sue Burton, Founder of the charity in 1983, to raise awareness not only of the work and money that goes into caring for 200+ animals and maintaining the premises that house them, but just as importantly Remus’ work in the community and its contribution to the local economy.  Sadly Sue was not able to attend the event, as she had been admitted to hospital on Tuesday evening.

2015 has been an extremely tough year for Remus, who has noticed an immense decline in donations as people continue to be very careful with their money. The effect on the Charity has been considerable which, in turn, has a huge impact on the Sanctuary and its work. Furthermore, this comes at a time when the horse welfare crisis is escalating in this country and therefore putting extra pressure on Remus’ already depleted funds.

The Sanctuary continues to make every effort to reduce expenditure where possible and increase its income.  The charity employs 15 members of staff providing jobs within the local community and is supported by a further 30 volunteers ranging from 11 – 83 years of age!  Additionally, they make a significant contribution to the local economy; in 2014 their bill for hay and straw was £85,000, vets bill £55,000 and for the farrier £12,000.  One of their suppliers recently told them that if Remus ‘go under, so will he!’ which clearly shows the impact it has on local business. Naturally, Remus want to avoid this but need ongoing support to do so, to allow and encourage more people through their gates annually – it is currently limited in its fundraising efforts due to the green belt restrictions, parking and access.

Whilst much of Remus’ work is done on site at the Sanctuary, the staff work actively within the community to enhance the lives of others; visiting Care Homes for the elderly to improve their lives, and to schools to educate youngsters and show them how to respect and care for animals, an important aspect of improving animal welfare for the future.  Remus is also an accredited organisation offering work placements to young people and a Duke of Edinburgh Award training venue.  The staff give talks to various groups, clubs and schools and organise tours for deaf, blind and disabled groups.  The staff and volunteers organise a variety of complementary therapy workshops throughout the year to educate and inform, on elderly horse care, animal behaviour, and various holistic therapies.

Sue Burton, Founder, said, “We are absolutely delighted with the response, I’m just so sorry I couldn’t be there.  I hear The Countess of Wessex was absolutely delightful as always, we really appreciate her support and genuine interest in what we do and the escalating horse welfare crisis in this country.  We also need people to understand the important work we do within the Essex community and our contribution to the local business economy. Although our raison d’etre, often people do not see beyond the animals.”  Sue went on to explain, “Unless we see greater support locally from the ‘powers that be’ there is little hope for a future at Remus. Hopefully today has gone someway to educating the political and business community”.


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