News at Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary
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Fiona in The North Pole Marathon
Following her success in the Sahara Desert last year when she became the first lifelong female vegan to complete the grueling Marathon des Sables, Fiona now has her sights firmly set on the challenge of both the North Pole and the Antarctic Marathon.
Fiona is featured in the Daily Mail newspaper:
Inspirational Women of the Year: Fiona ran across the desert to save 400 animals. A gloriously uplifting story from the Mail's search - launched last week - to find the most inspiring women in Britain.
Every morning, come rain or shine, 42-year-old Fiona Oakes gets out of bed at 3.30am and single-handedly begins to feed and muck out the 400 different animals she cares for at her sanctuary.
After hours making sure the 22 dogs, 53 horses, 82 pigs, 50 cats, 40 sheep, 20 goats, three cows and assorted chickens, geese, ducks and peacocks are happy, she then pulls on her trainers and goes for a run...
Our new 2013 full colour calendar is now available to buy
You can now show your support for us with our full colour calendar. All 12 months are beautifully depicted with the stars of Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary.
We also offer bulk packs for those that want to spread the message to friends and family.
30th June - Charity Problems
Thank you to everyone who has sent their best wishes for Charity today. It has been a very traumatic and worrying day and, to be honest, the outlook has not looked good for much of the time. Charity was down in her box this morning when we found her at frist light. Although tempting to immediately try and get her to her feet, we followed Erik, the vet's, advice from his last visit and let her ...stay down for a good few hours if she wanted to, in order that she might have a good rest.
Obviously, during this time she had to be supervised constantly and offered water by syringe whenever she required it. We also administered her Bute so that if she were in any pain, it would be numbed. Charity did try, very bravely, to get to her feet several times during this period but she just did not, even with our assistance, quite have the strength. As the hours passed we knew the only option if she could not get up, would be to have the vet to put her to sleep. He has already said there is nothing more he can do for her in these situations than we we can do ourselves and at what point to call him was not going to be an easy decision to make. At around 12 noon Charity drifted off into a sleep and we went to the caravan in order to decide what to do leaving her in the capable hooves of Mini Max to watch over her. We sipped our drinks slowly and sadly desperately hoping and praying for a miracle. We finished our drinks and Martin went to fetch his mobile telephone but, after a few seconds, came running back and calling me to 'come quickly, come and see this'. Our beautiful Charity had not only bravely got to her feet but she had come down the stables looking for us and her friends, the other horses. She was weak and had a few cuts and bangs but they were just superficial and I treated them immediately.
Gradually, after a bucket of apples and carrots, she gathered her strength and just wanted to soak up the afternoon sun with her friends, who all came running up from the fields to greet her. Obviously, I could not let her out with them but Rupert’s yard and big shelter were available so I put her in there right next to the others. Well, I say I 'put her' but, to be honest 'she dragged me' would be a more accurate phrase. She was behaving like a youngster, prancing and neighing to the others. She has just come into her stable and is eating her bucket after having a lovely afternoon amongst her friends. I know that one day, possibly very soon, things won't have such a happy outcome but, for today at least, Charity is where she most wants to be - in her lovely warm, cosy stable munching on her favourite foods without a care in the world.
This is Pepi - an elderly Staffie X. Unlike most others in the country, Pepi had nothing to celebrate this weekend. He has been lingering in a Northern Dog Pound and was due to be 'put to sleep' yesterday. Fortunately though for Pepi, Fiona does not spend her time celebrating either. She spends it working and trying to help animals and is always contactable and willing to listen when she is asked to help - even during the Diamond Jubilee weekend! When Fiona was told about Pepi she agreed to help him. A lift was arranged for Pepi part of the way to the Sanctuary and Fiona drove the rest of the way to meet him and bring him 'home' this morning. Pepi is old, he is confused and frightened. He was thrown out of his last home, he needs veterinary attention for his teeth* and a growth on his tail but, most importantly, now he has hope. Hope because Fiona has, yet again, pushed herself to the limit to help him - as she has hundreds of others like him over the years. Please consider helping Fiona to continue caring in this way as times are becoming very, very difficult and, ultimately, it is animals like Pepi who will have to pay the price.
*You can see his left lip protrudes where a tooth sticks out at 90 degrees - probably due to an old untreated impact.
Please get in touch if you would like to sponsor Pepe for you or a friend - from just £1 a month.
Southend Animal Aid are holding a Charity Indian Meal and Disco to raise much needed funds for our their two chosen charities this year and we are lucky enough to be one of those! To read more or to buy tickets please visit their Facebook page here.
31st May - Fiona wins Best Vegan Athlete Award at Bristol VegFest!
Fiona was nominated for this award back in March & was up against some stiff competetion. All the voting was done on line & Fiona came first with 28.5% of the vote. In 2nd place was Martina Navratilova & in 3rd place Carl Lewis.
This is a fantastic achivement & we are all very proud of Fiona. We hope it helps spread the word about all Fiona does her animals and animals everywhere through her cruelty free lifestyle.
30th May - Fiona Update!
During the past few weeks I have allowed myself a little 'down time' from running in order that my body could repair itself after the thrashing I gave it in the Marathons des Sables. That's not to say I haven't been running at all, just doing a bit less which has afforded me time for other things. Obviously I have been very keen to put this little bit of 'spare' time to very good use for the animals and one of the ways I have been able to do this is to take up some of the invitations I have had to speak at Vegan Festivals and talk about the Sanctuary, my running, my Fire Fighting, what I do in Russia and the MdS. I have been very fortunate in that I have been able to combine these trips with other things such as visiting supporters who are not able to come and see the Sanctuary and meet the animals themselves. I would like to thank the very kind supporter who has offered to assist in the cost of me getting to these events as he believes telling the world about what I do is very important to the Vegan cause in the hope it might convince others to consider the lifestyle themselves. Unfortunately, all my visits have had to be real 'flying' ones though as Martin used all his holidays from work for me to be able to compete in MdS so we are very restricted with how long I can be away. Very hectic!
VegFest - Tampere, Finland
I was very honoured to be invited to attend VegFest in Tampere in Finland and very excited to be able to go along and meet the very dedicated bunch of young volunteers who are so committed to promoting animal rights and welfare issues as well as veganism in their own country. The VegFest was the third of its kind in Tampere and it is growing every year. I stepped off the train from Helsinki and was immediately greeted by a very friendly young lady who was handing leaflets out to the general public inviting them to go along and have a look at what was going on. I explained this was the reason I was there and she was most pleased!
The Festival was held in the main square in Tampere and, although the weather had been cold the previous day, the weather was lovely. Apparently it was the first really warm day of the year and hopefully the start of the very short Finnish summer. As I wandered around the stalls - probably 30 in total - I was so moved by the passion and interest of the young people there. Sari, the organiser, had been working on it for a whole year and you could certainly tell. There were several tents for speakers with the main one having a large stage and being used as a dining hall too. Obviously it was quite difficult to give a long speech as I had nothing really prepared as it was a last minute decision (mainly due to our own lack of finance, until the kind offer of help came) to attend and also the language barrier also had to be considered. Having said that, most of the bright young crowd spoke beautiful English and my talk obviously went down well as I received the following e-mail from one of the organisers after my talk.
Hello, just writing to you because I was touched by Fiona's speech at the VegFest event in Tampere, Finland. If you could forward this message to Fiona, I would greatly appreciate it. I am the guy who presented you onstage. The work you do is wonderful and I wish all the best for you in life. I myself have been vocal about animal rights in the media ( I have a show of my own on tv). I also produced and directed the video to my first solo music venture:. Who knows, maybe someday we could do some sort of a project together? I definately would like to visit the sanctuary someday if that's possible. All the best!
VegFest - Bristol
What can I say - HUGE! Just about ever possible vegan/vegan related/ethical/environment/animal issue covered you can imagine. It is now the biggest vegan festival in the world and you certainly can see that when you go. I have never been before so it was a real educational experience for me. It was absolutely great to see Peter on the Vegan Runners stall and to see how hard all the guys work to man these events and promote the Club. I have to confess that many times I do feel guilty that I cannot do more things like this but I truly am very tied up with my time and being away from the Sanctuary. I was very nervous about speaking as, believe it or not for those who do know me, I don't like talking about myself and what I do. For sure, I can natter on but not about myself - it just isn't me. What I do is what I do and I don't actually think too much about it, I just get on and do it. Sometimes it is very difficult for me to explain as my lifestyle seems completely natural to me and I find it hard to understand why others don't follow it too. I became more and more nervous as the 'hour' approached (quite literally as I was billed to speak for an hour) and I was becoming more and more worried as to how I was going to fill the time. I glanced at my material and thought 'a cosy 5 minutes stuff here and then I am paddling my own canoe' so to speak!
Peter Simpson from Vegan Runners very kindly agreed to introduce me to the audience (and a big 'thank you very much' to the many friendly faces who turned up to watch) and then I was on my own and it went remarkably well. So well, in fact, that after about an hour and five minutes a very diplomatic Amanda from the Vegan Society had to move us on as they had the following slot booked. Even then, people were queuing to ask questions or get advice, which really surprised me. I would like to say though that I am always very happy to help anyone with any questions they might have. Not just relating to me but to them. One lady asked about my knee injury as hers was not progressing so well, another asked for advice on training, another on shoes etc. I cannot say my advice will always suit them but I am always more than happy to share anything I have learned along the way and will benefit anyone else.
I was sorry we had to leave so early in the end but we were on restricted train tickets to keep the costs as low as possible so my time in Bristol was not forgotten. Since arriving home I have had nothing but positive feedback from people all actively encouraging me to get out there more and speak to people - something I never do as I am always with the animals or training to actually do the things I do.
One very respected member of the Vegan world did send me the following in a mail for which I am truly flattered coming from someone held in such high esteem himself! 'Thanks again for your talk. I think it was probably the most inspirational thing I've heard in my life so far.'
I have to say that, if people are interested in listening to what I have to say and about what I have done I do feel it a moral obligation to try and do more of this sort of thing as it might just benefit the animals more than I initially thought.
27th May - Bristol Veg Fest
Fiona was nominated in the best Vegan Athlete category at the Bristol Veg Festival and she decided to go down to attend the festival to help promote the sanctuary and the vegan cause. Fiona was offerred a slot on Sunday to do a talk & at 1pm she delivered a speech to a small crowd of folk who were very interested - captivated - by what she had to say !
Fiona will write a report up about the event which I will publish here as soon
Remember the Turkeys Fiona saved last Christmas?
Today they went out to their Summer accommodation! We built a large run last year and here you can see the gang taking in the surroundings. They will sleep locked into the little houses. Here is a video of them exploring their new surroundings.
17th April - Fiona's Marathon des Sables Race Report
14th April - Fiona finishes the Marathon des Sables!
The hardest footrace on the planet left many fine athletes broken & in tatters, many abandoning the race at various points along it, but today Fiona finished the final stage with Percy Bear & Cederic Snowman in one piece! Hurray
The first lifelong Vegan female athlete to complete this event! - see update HERE
10th April - Fiona Update HERE
3rd April - 2 Days to go!
Just 2 days to go before Fiona & Percy leave for their epic challenge! - see new Pictures at the page HERE - unfortunately we had a bad "do" with Charity our eldest Equine resident which resulted in the last of the new pictures on the above link - full story under the picture
Also see HERE for a new video of the Horses running & rolling in the fields in yesterdays sunshine!
22nd March - New Dog! & MdS Update
On Wednesday morning I said to Fiona that I would get the yard scraped down
before I went to work so that she could have a tiny bit more rest indoors -
as she is very tired from all the work & all the training. Whilst indoors
the phone went and it was someone trying to rehome an elderly dog who is in
kennels but deteriorating rapidly - as some do in that sort of environment.
Fiona agreed to help after establishing that all other avenues had been explored. She then made a few calls to see if someone would fetch the little girl from where she was, but everyone was too busy, so Fiona is having to go today to get her. I will update the site with pictures when she is here.
It is not long to go now until - all being well - Fiona leaves to compete in the toughest foot race in the world in a desperate attempt to see if she can generate the kind of interest in the animal sanctuary that it needs to continue caring for so many unwanted animals - as well as the wider issues of welfare & a cruelty free & environmentally friendly lifestyle.
If you are able to help with the fund raising, please visit the link here to sponsor Fiona!
4th March - Update!
After the lull of the past weeks weather, Winter returned in anger today. It hasn't stopped raining & there is snow in the rain too! - been a bad few weeks for huge bills as we still have the Jan hay bill to pay £1230 & February's has now arrived at some £1700 - although this includes £400 to take 2 months worth of muck away - some 5 big lorry loads. That was done last weekend. Plus a £700 repair & service on the Sanctuary hay van and last weeks ordinary feed (sacks etc) topped £1000. Its frightening how quickly the debts can mount.
All the gang are well and tucked up in bed as I type. Tzar the horse has been ill recently, but is recovered now & interested again in his food bucket which is always a good sign!
The feed appeal is still running as per the entry below & thank you to all who have contributed! If you didn't see this, please check out the link below
A new "Fundraising for Tower Hill Stables" page has been set up by supporters on Facebook & a fund raising auction is being organised - check it out HERE
There are 75 "Likes" so far. The Auction will be on 7th April!
13th February - Winter Feed Appeal
If you are on our mailing list you should have recieved an e mail that went out this weekend. If you would like to be on the email list, please get in touch using the e mail button above. The recent cold snap has seen us use a lot more food in order to keep the animals warm! - We have set up a special page at this link HERE where you can buy a specific item to help with the feed bills, from a sack of carrots to a massive bale of hay! - Have a look - Thank you
31st Jan - Appeal for Donations
January has been a very difficult month for us here at the Sanctuary. Despite our position here we have taken in two more horses who were recently abandoned. They have been called Princess Nuala & Ghost - pictures to follow. They were part of a herd of 22 who were all abandoned & a Sanctuary in Kent is feeding them now. As per below in case you missed it -that sanctuary has asked 40 (yes 40) other organisations to help & no-one will. Fiona said she would take 2. Everyone is finding it tough at the moment, but of course we cannot simply stop feeding the animals, so we have to bear the increase in costs ourselves & we are already stretched beyond reason!
Please - if anyone else wants to do fund raising for us, please feel free to do so as we really do need your help. If you are on facebook - please share our page HERE on your walls as we need to dramatically increase awaress of the work that Fiona does - she is still very much "unknown" despite her incredible efforts & amazing sporting achievements. We are grateful to the Vegan society who are promoting Fiona's work & if you can help - please please do.
If you would like standing order forms or leaflets for your friends please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much from us & the Gang X
28th Jan - update to the entry below
We just noticed that in this article Runners World have incorrectly stated that Fionas top 10 & top 20 placings were "age group" results - This is utter rubbish as these results were overall position - puts a totally different perspective on her results. Fiona is absolutely devastated about this and is on the verge of packing up everything. I have written to Runners World to ask for an explanation. If others would do to, perhaps they might issue something in the next magazine. Fiona has worked so hard to achieve these extraordinary results & to have them demeaned in this way is demoralising
27th January - Fiona in Runners World Magazine
Fiona has been training harder than ever before (which is impossible!) for the Marathon des Sables this April. She has had to change her training substantially to cater for this Desert race which is totally different from running on the road. Running slower than usual Fiona has had to extend the length of her runs to get used to what it will be like in the Sahara desert. This means running for 5 hours a day rather than 2-3. When I say she is running slower than usual, she will still be running faster than the average decent club runner!
Covering now about 140 miles a week things here are about a strained as you can imagine as the animal work still needs to be done & it is still Winter - the toughest time of the year.
26th Jan - Ghost & Princess Nuala arrive
When I got home tonight there were 2 more horses than when I left this morning! We have taken in 2 more lost souls who had nowhere else to go. 22 horses were recently abandoned & another Sanctuary has had to step in to look after them as they were not being fed. Clearly we are not really in a position to help, but we have squeezed in 2 of them to help out. The Sanctuary that stepped in had already asked 40 - yes 40 other rescues to help to no avail.
Pics to follow
11th January - The Camel's Back
As regular readers will already know, we have it tough here. Yes we choose to do this for the sake of the animals lives we save, but few can imagine the personal sacrifice. Remember this is not what we do for a living, there are no salaries or expenses paid here and the stress of finding the best part of £7K a month to feed everyone & cover average vets bills is a massive burden. On top of this Fiona has to find time to be one of the Worlds fittest people - yes & I do mean the World - find me another with a resting pulse of just 27 beats per minute & bear in mind that a female's pulse beats faster than a mans. Fiona's athletic achievements are extraordinary - 4 marathon course records including the Essex County Championship course & the Dartmoor Vale - considered to be one of the toughest courses in the Country plus 2 tough courses in Finland - Plus what still shocks me the most I think is that Fiona was the FIRST lady to finish in the main race of the 2010 Great North run & got absolutely zero mention in the press! - that is truly astounding & one of the biggest slaps in the face to date.
Oh yes & don't forget the poor girl has a knee replacement & no right knee cap...
Fiona is not a novelty Vegan - she has not just turned vegan to raise the profile of a flagging career - she has been Vegan for well over 20 years. Not only that, but she cares for hundreds of rescues - who else has 25+ dogs in their house to care for + all the outside farm animals & no staff or volunteers?
Now we are asking frankly the impossible of Fiona - for her to do all this AND train for the toughest footrace in the World - the Marathon Des Sables - basically a marathon a day for 6 days in the Sahara Desert, carrying all your food & supplies for the week.
Fiona has run 26 miles a day for the past 4 days on the trot - as well as all the jobs to see how she coped. This included a 30 mile night run with a head torch as one of the MDS stages is run at night. She is tough. She is very tough, but she is not invincible.
We said we would not take any more animals before Christmas & 3 more dogs later (Hannah, Queenie & Dino) we finally broke so said NO to a staffie called Pippa. She was at a pound & was due to be killed today. The person trying to home her asked Fiona over & over, crying down the phone but we said NO. - Was that the right thing to do? No-one else was going to save her - why do we have to bear the guilt of her premature death? It's not fair.
We know countless animals are PTS (or slaughtered) every day & we can do little to change that, but when we are personally contacted about one individual it is impossible not to get emotionally involved - I guess if it were possible to ignore it we would not be where we are today or doing what we do...
Anyway, we couldn't stand it. Faced with this guilt or perhaps darker choices Fiona went to the kennels before Pippa was killed & she is currently curled up with Charlotte the 3 legged staffie.
We can't however carry on without more help - the loyal 250 hard core members are the only reason we can carry on at all & I thank you for your continued support - however we MUST break into new territory if we are to survive - Fiona's facebook page has 464 likes! - the Sanctuary page has 670 odd! - The Vegan Society has 79,000+ likes. ...we are virtually unknown.
We have no money to advertise, we can only rely on you - so please tell your contacts about Fiona's work - if you are on facebook please "Like" Fiona's page & share the stories on your walls. Fiona's Page is HERE & the Sanctuary page is HERE
Meet Pippa HERE & if you want to help the animals here & can spare a few pounds a month (or even 1) please look here
25th December - Christmas Video
Just uploaded the video of the three new Christmas Eve arrivals - It is on the Movies page HERE - there were some production issues, but we hope that doesn't spoil your enjoyment!
Thank you to all who have helped the animals this year - your support is gratefully appreciated!
Love from Fiona, Martin, Meg & the Gang!!
24th December - New Arrivals
First thing today a lorry arrived with a Calf called Eve - which was appropriate what with it being Christmas Eve! - She had been injured & was of no use to the farmer, so having been treated by a vet, an organisation in Derbyshire were looking for a forever home for her...
Pictures to be posted soon. She is only 4 months old & has moved in with the Dartmoor rescues as she is about their size! - We have set a Chip In up (see above) to see if we can raise the money to cover her transport costs to the Sanctuary which were about £200. The Chip In works in dollars, but don't worry if you are in the UK as it just feeds any money donated to the Sanctuary Paypal account & sorts out all the currency as if by magic!
Clearly we will be grateful for any amount sent to help towards these costs.
Yesterday a female staffie was saved by Fiona - She was on PTS at the pound as she had been classified as "a dangerous dog" - she is nestling in a bed as I type.
Later today we are expecting to take a very elderly dog who just needs a home for the Winter of his life - more news to follow on that.
19th December - 2012 Calendars
We still have about 40 calendars left for 2012 & of course they become useless at the end of this month, so if you would like one for £5 (including p & p) please let us know or order online on the adoptions page HERE - Thank You!! (scroll down the page when it opens)
18th December - Hannah Pictures
As mentioned below, Hannah was saved from the needle a few weeks ago & is now living with all her new friends at the Sanctuary - Here is her page with pictures
17th December - Update
Apologies for the lack of updates recently - we have been very busy these past few weeks. We had a stall at the Christmas without Cruelty Fayre in Kensington a few Sunday's back which went well and we raised about £800 on the day which we will put towards the December feed bill!
It was very nice to meet supporters of the Sanctuary and Fiona's work - so thank you to all who stopped by our stall to say hello. I was helped on the day by Kaylie & Jackie who booked the stall & actually organised everything including the very successful Tombola!
We have also recently rescued some Turkeys destined for slaughter - see the video on the movies page of them arriving back at the Sanctuary where they will be cared for & treated. We were allowed to rescue the ones considered to be too poorly for slaughter (for human consumption) which is about as ironic as it gets. We paid the farmer £50 to hold as many as he would - otherwise these "poorly" birds are simply culled.
Also we have taken another staffie called Hannah whose time had run out at
the pound & was due for the needle. Fiona drove over to the pound to snatch
Hannah from that fate with about 10 minutes to spare. I will post a picture
of Hannah soon she is quite young & very sweet