#CoronaChronicles: Here's looking at you 2020

I think we can all agree that the new decade hasn’t got off to the best start.

We began the #CoronaChronicles back in March as a way to keep you all informed with how the Sanctuary was coping during the first national lockdown, hoping this would all be put behind us in a few weeks.

Well, we know what happened next…

I’m sure, at times, we’ve all found it difficult to focus on the positives this year. At the Sanctuary, we’re also very aware that many of our supporters – as well as our own staff members – will no longer be able to enjoy the Christmas they expected due to the new Tier 4 restrictions introduced this week.

May we take this opportunity to say we’re thinking of all of you and wish everyone a happy and healthy Christmas, however you may be able to celebrate. We'd also like to say a big thank you to our equine care staff who will be spending much of the festive period at our sites, whatever the weather, ensuring our rescued residents remain well cared for.

So we’ve decided we’re going to dedicate this final #CoronaChronicles of 2020 to looking back at what, despite all the extraordinary challenges, we’ve been able to achieve this year – and we could not have done any of it without you!

Everything we do is 100% funded by donations, so whether you’ve supported one of our appeals, taken part in an online fundraiser, sponsored an Adoption Star or bought a gift from our online shop – you’re the reason so many rescued horses and donkeys are no longer facing neglect this Christmas.

Here’s what we’ve achieved together:

  • While adhering to Government guidance throughout the year, we’ve still been able to bring almost 180 horses and donkeys into the Sanctuary in 2020. This is one of our largest intakes in recent years! Our new residents include Matilda – an emaciated young pony we rescued just as the first lockdown began. Look at her now!

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Matilda pictured (L) when rescued and now today (R).

  • Despite having to suspend our Guardianship scheme for two months, we’ve rehomed over 60 rescued horses this year – a new record! This is thanks to our innovative Rehoming team who designed a new virtual application process so we could still match our unbacked project horses and non-ridden companions with new responsible homes while keeping everyone safe. 
  • With special thanks to the hard work of our Health & Safety and Maintenance teams, we were able to roll out a phased reopening of our visitor centres from July with new safety measures. It was wonderful to welcome people again!The majority of our visitor centres are currently closed again due to Tier 4 or local lockdown restrictions. Please click here for more details about the situation at your nearest Redwings centre. 
  • While our visitor centres were closed, we brought you as much of the Redwings experience online as we could. From the Young Reds at Home Academy and Summer Club Online for our young supporters, to daily images and videos of our rescued residents across the Sanctuary, we packed our social media with plenty of feel-good content to raise a smile and help you stay at home. In particular, many of our supporters spoke to us about what it has meant to keep in touch with our Adoption Stars online this year. This lovely quote from one adopter sums it up beautifully.

“I adopt Rumpel, Wiggins and Wacko, seeing pictures of their beautiful faces, reading their stories through all of this and seeing how they just accept life and go on has helped me so much, I am a key worker and so many times I have just wanted to cry, but seeing the beautiful light they bring to this world, their unconditional love and happiness, has helped keep me smiling when everything has become too much.”

  • For the first time in over 10 years we had to cancel the Redwings Show. Undeterred, we brought the show online and opened it up to all pets. We even hosted a second Christmas version this December with guest judge, best-selling author Elly Griffiths. Together, the shows attracted about 800 entries and raised more than £3,000! Another notable online fundraiser was the hilarious Redwings Mane Event, which raised over £1,700 and attracted headlines across the country and even in the USA! 
  • In May, we joined forces with other leading animal welfare organisations to launch the first ever Strangles Awareness Week. This online campaign encouraged people to speak out about their experiences of strangles to help stamp out the stigma associated with the infectious disease. It’s estimated that the campaign reached about half a million people online throughout the week. Look out for more details of Strangles Awareness Week 2021 soon!
  • Then, in December, we collaborated again with other equine welfare charities to release a special report, Britain’s Horse Problem, bringing into focus the impact of the pandemic on sanctuaries across the UK and the expected surge of welfare cases now likely to occur. 

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We've given a safe home to almost 180 horses and donkeys this year.

Thank you to all our wonderful teams across the Sanctuary, whose aptitude for problem-solving and resilience, have shone as brightly as their dedication towards our rescued horses and donkeys this year. Their hard work has helped us turn your support into these proud achievements. 

But this hard work continues into 2021. With restrictions stretching into the future and with Redwings now operating at a deficit for months - potential years to come - we remain vigilant and continue to appeal for your support. Thoughout 2020, we saw an incredible increase in the number of you donating, playing our raffles and shopping online. We can't thank you enough and hope you'll think of us again next year. 

If you would like to make a donation over the Christmas period, please be aware that our offices will be closed from Christmas Eve until 4th January, but you can still support us through our website here. During this time, gift shop orders and adoptions will not be processed until the New Year and our welfare line will also be closed. If you would like to report a welfare concern, or always in an emergency, please call the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

From everyone at Redwings, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you #RedwingsAngels