Military veterans answer call to help sisters running animal sanctuary in Sheffield

Big-hearted military veterans are set to descend on a Sheffield animal shelter to carry out vital renovations – but they need your help.

By Robert Cumber
Wednesday, 14 August, 2019, 13:10

Mill House Animal Sanctuary in Fulwood is run by twin sisters Pat Hartley and Jane Wright, aged 77, who have taken in hundreds of critters over the years, from unwanted cats and dogs to poorly pigs and ponies.

Pat and Jane, aided by their band of loyal volunteers, pride themselves on never turning away an animal in need, but the ageing premises on Mayfield Road are urgently in need of repair.

A group called Spuddys and Spudettes Building and Naughty Adventures, made up largely of sappers who served in the Corps of Royal Engineers, has come to aid of the sisters running the charity.

Twin sisters Pat Hartley and Jane Wright, who run Mill House Animal Sanctuary

Its members are due to visit this weekend to restore the crumbling perimeter walls, and they plan to return in greater numbers to transform the rest of the sanctuary.

The charity has appealed for people or businesses to donate the building materials and equipment needed for the future work, or the money to buy it, and for anyone willing to put the builders up when they return.

Jane, who has been helping to run the sanctuary since she and her sister rescued their first pony there with their parents in 1948, said: “The perimeter walls are falling down in places and are no longer safe, so we're incredibly grateful to these veterans offering their time for free.

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“We really need people to show their support now so they can get this work done, which will make a huge difference to the sanctuary and the animals we look after.”

Shaun Kendall, an ex-Royal Engineer who volunteers at the farm, called on his fellow sappers to help after learning about the parlous state of the wall.

“They came back and told me not only would they do the wall, they would also renovate the paddock, stables and kennel blocks. In total, they’ve offered to do around £100,000 worth of work for free, which is amazing,” said the 56-year-old warehouse worker, of Gleadless.

“Jane and Pat have struggled all these years to keep that place going, and it’s amazing what they’ve achieved, especially when you consider they’re now in their 70s – imagine your grandmother shovelling out stables at the age of 77.

“This work will make a huge difference. When I told Jane, there was a tear in her eye and she grabbed me and gave me a hug, which shows what it means to her.”

The Spuddys and Spudettes formed after members met helping to transform a row of abandoned houses in Manchester into a military veterans’ village for the TV show DIY SOS, and the group has since completed numerous projects for other good causes.

Its founder Andy Leavy said: “These two ladies do an amazing job caring for all those animals, so when we heard they needed our help we were delighted to get involved."

To donate, visit animalsheltersheffield.co.uk, or for more about how you can help, call Shaun Kendall on 0792 7483 850.