Volunteering at Wetheriggs Animal Centre By Katie Bagshawe (Final Year Computing Student)

Saturday 03rd October 2015

On a misty cold morning a group of twenty students plus two leaders gathered in the wilderness of Durham at the Wetheriggs Animal Rescue Centre based neatly inside Thorpe Farm Centre. After a quick cup of tea to warm us up we were ready and willing to get involved, Terry the owner, split us into groups, some were to mingle with chicks and hens cleaning out their coops and others had the hands on task of clearing a large area of nettles to make way for future renovation. I was in the latter group and quickly made use of a falconry glove to pull nettles and weeds out, as the pigs in the outhouse next door were very vocal in entertaining us.

We soon got into a routine with wheelbarrows making multiple trips filled with nettles that would be dried out and fed to the goats, some braver than others got right into the thick nettles as the rest of us raked the ground of leftover weeds. Time soon flew by and lunch came round, some of us gathered with our packed lunches whilst others made use of the on site café to a toasty jacket potato all excited in anticipation of meeting the animals currently in care with the center.

As promised after lunch, Terry gave us all a tour, some were daring enough to get friendly with a snake and a tarantula before we made our way outside to meet goats, donkeys, a new Shire horse all whilst petting alpacas and llamas, but trying not to get spat on! It was like a wonderful scene out of Beatrix Potter as ducks and geese followed us round the site keeping us company, with the final section of the tour getting to see some gorgeous baby donkeys hidden in the nearby woodland.

After the short entertainment we were to get back to work clearing the land out. A lot of wood debris meant we soon ran out of time to completely finish our task, however a good two thirds of the area has now been cleared to ease the task of renovation and improving the homes of where these animals live. A quick photo opportunity later and all tired and proud of our achievements we jumped onto the buses and made our way home still among the low cloud of Cumbria.

It’s easy to see how passionate Terry is about the centre, having a nest egg of knowledge and background regarding all the animals on site and filling us in on the many volunteers that have stayed loyal to him in ensuring they all lead a good, healthy life. Whilst tendering to nettle stings it was easy to see it was a brilliant day out meeting new people, getting involved in a very worthy cause and making the most of our spare time whilst at University; if any of you have a spare day free, why not put your time to good use and get involved in your local community.

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