Good Samaritans help military veterans come to the aid of Sheffield animal sanctuary

Military veterans were able to restore a crumbling wall at a Sheffield animal shelter after good Samaritans answered a last-minute call for help.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 4:29 pm

Ex-servicemen and women from the Corps of Royal Engineers volunteered to carry out urgent repairs at Mill House Animal Sanctuary in Fulwood, but a lack of building materials and equipment nearly prevented them undertaking the huge task over the weekend.

Thankfully, two kindhearted supporters stepped forward at the eleventh hour to ensure members of the group Spuddys and Spudettes Building and Naughty Adventures could do their bit.

Even more veterans are due to descend on the site in around six weeks to complete repairs to the wall and renovate the paddock, stables and kennel blocks.

Andy Leavy (Spud), Martin McCaul and project manager Theresa Murray, from the group Spuddys and Spudettes Building and Naughty Adventures, repair the crumbling wall at Mill House Animal Sanctuary in Fulwood

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More donations and offers of accommodation for the volunteers are being sought ahead of their return, and tradespeople are being asked to lend a hand too.

The sanctuary on Mayfield Road is run by twin sisters Pat Hartley and Jane Wright, aged 77, who have been there since it was set up in 1948.

It is hoped the work will make it easier for them to continue running the shelter, which houses around 200 animals, from cats and dogs to horses.

Volunteers at Mill House Animal Sanctuary with twin sisters Pat Hartley and Jane Wright, second and third from left, who run the shelter

Shaun Kendall, a former Royal Engineer who helped organise the mission, said: “The guys worked incredibly hard this weekend and what they’ve achieved in such a short time is amazing. I can’t thank them and the people who made their work possible enough.

“We still need more people to donate money or building materials and equipment so they can complete the job when they return, and we’re also looking for people willing to put them up and for electricians, brickies and other tradespeople who are able to help.”

Eileen Jones-Hill, an accountant from Hunters Bar, donated around £1,000 to pay for building materials and also provided the veterans with free accommodation and breakfast, while Rob Horwell provided a mini-digger for the work.

Ms Jones-Hill said she stumped up the money after hearing of the sanctuary’s plight while looking for a rescue dog.

Martin McCaul working on the wall at Mill House Animal Sanctuary

“I couldn’t let the veterans’ incredible generosity go to waste because of a lack of building materials,” said the animal lover.

“I’d never been to the sanctuary before but I’m so impressed by these two ladies who have dedicated their lives to looking after the animals there. It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by their story.

“The veterans have done a great job and hopefully it will make a big difference for the sisters and the animals they care for.”

Ms Jones-Hill is regional coordinator for the central region of Sheffield’s Neighbourhood Watch Network and said she hoped her donation, while being a personal one, would help raise the organisation’s profile

Some of the pigs at Mill House Animal Sanctuary

“We’re much more community based now. What we do isn’t just about crime prevention, and we’re trying to prove we’re not just a group of curtain-twitching nosey neighbours, which is how some people still think of Neighbourhood Watch,” she explained.

You can donate to the sanctuary at or call Shaun Kendall on 0792 7483 850 if you think you might be able to help with the renovation project.

For more about the work of Spuddys and Spudettes Building and Naughty Adventures, which is largely made up of ex-Royal Engineers who met while volunteering as part of the TV show DIY SOS, visit their Facebook page here.

The pigs' living quarters at Mill House Animal Sanctuary, which is part of the facilities which veterans plan to improve when they return to complete the renovations