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Brentwood’s Hopefield Animal Sanctuary welcomes back public after lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:04 27 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:54 28 July 2020

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, whose ambassadors include Leona Lewis, Simon Cowell and James Arthur, welcome the public for first time since lockdown. Credit: Ricci Fothergill

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, whose ambassadors include Leona Lewis, Simon Cowell and James Arthur, welcome the public for first time since lockdown. Credit: Ricci Fothergill

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Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, the Brentwood animal rescue centre has reopened after lockdown.

The sanctuary has several new Covid-secure measures in place including mandatory temperature checks, hand sanitising stations and one way systems. Credit: Ricci FothergillThe sanctuary has several new Covid-secure measures in place including mandatory temperature checks, hand sanitising stations and one way systems. Credit: Ricci Fothergill

The centre is normally closed from December to March in normal circumstances but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they remained closed until July. This saw them lose the majority of their fundraising for the year. Being a small charity, they rely on donations and visitors to continue the vital work that they do – saving animals from lives of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and mistreatment.

Reunited with the ponies at long last. Picture: Ricci FothergillReunited with the ponies at long last. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

The team have been working tirelessly to ensure that not only are the animals safe and cared for, but their visitors are as well.

Children excited to see the animals after three months. Picture: Ricci FothergillChildren excited to see the animals after three months. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

A lot of work has gone in to making the site safe, including new fencing to create a one-way system around the whole sanctuary, installing new toilets to prevent queuing, renovating a food van to allow them to serve takeaway food outside, and setting up hand sanitising stations in various locations.

Saying hello to the resident meerkat. Picture: Ricci FothergillSaying hello to the resident meerkat. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

But the sanctuary’s CEO, Dave Schlaich, has warned that they are not out of the woods just yet: “We’re so pleased that we’re able to have visitors through the gates again, but with social distancing, and the need to reduce the number of people on site at any one time, we’re looking at making just 30 per cent of what we did in the previous year.

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopened to the public for the first time since the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Ricci FothergillHopefield Animal Sanctuary reopened to the public for the first time since the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

“We’re in an okay position at the moment, but when winter comes around and bills increase significantly, that’s when we’re going to be hit the hardest. We’re just hoping to maximise our fundraising as much as possible while we can.”

As well as visiting their 500 rescued residents, visitors can complete the free Hopefield Trail with a new one-way system, pre-book an afternoon tea to enjoy and overlook the tranquillity of the sanctuary grounds and sponsor an animals. It will not be compulsory for visitors to wear a face mask however, it is advisory and can be purchased on site for 50p. More details of the Covid-secure regulations and how to book can be found online at: hopefield.org.uk.

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