#CoronaChronicles 2021: Week 12

This week, #CoronaChronicles author, Communications Manager Steph Callen, looks back over an extraordinary year.

Like the rest of country, everyone at Redwings has been reflecting this week on how much all our lives have changed over the past 12 months.

Did you know we published the first edition of the #CoronaChronicles on 27th March 2020?!

While the blog went on a mini hiatus over the summer when we hoped we had said goodbye to lockdown for good, here I am still writing to you from my kitchen table, the horses in my life replaced by my two cats who are very much over my near-constant presence at home!

It’s been a privilege to be able to keep you informed of the incredible work that’s been taking place across the Sanctuary while our doors have been closed, and I hope it’s helped to raise a smile or two along the way.

Still, it feels difficult to celebrate the anniversary of something that we know exists because of a time that has brought so much hardship to so many.

I remember those first few days of the first lockdown; frantic text messages being pinged around as Boris finished his sombre address to the nation as my team, like many across the country, grappled with the fact that we would not be going into work the next day, with no idea of when we would return.

What would lockdown mean for our visitor centres? Our fundraising events? Our horses?

The answers soon became evident and overnight our centres were forced to close and our events cancelled. While we were suddenly plunged into a world of uncertainty, one thing was clear; our rescued horses would continue to receive the specialist care they needed and we would still be there for those in most desperate need of rescue.

Within days, our veterinary, welfare and care team leaders had devised new ways for staff to be able to continue safely in their roles – and these practices continue today.

With ever-evolving Government guidelines and more lockdowns along the way, we can’t say it’s been easy, but thanks to their dedication and perseverance, we stand here today still providing expert care for our rescued residents. We’ve also offered a safe new home to an additional 161 horses and donkeys in need and rehomed 103 horses to loving Guardians since the first lockdown began. 

But we couldn’t have done any of this without you! Your donations - whether it’s been the change in your back pocket or a box of carrots left at our Sanctuary gates - have all gone a long way in seeing us through this extraordinary time.

Your help has meant we’ve been able to see ponies like Audrey leave our Horse Hospital after five years of intensive treatment, nurse abandoned foal Matilda back to health and help fearful horses, like those removed from the former Whispering Willows Sanctuary, learn to trust humans again. 

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We were able to give Audrey the intensive treatment she needed because of you.

Even with your incredible outpouring of support, it’s fair to say that the pandemic has had a significant impact on our income so we will need to graciously continue to ask for your help as we look towards the end of this current – and hopefully last – lockdown.

However, we glimpse into the future with great hope, and one of the first things we’re very excited to celebrate is the reopening of our visitor centres!

We recently announced that we hoped to be able to welcome supporters back to our centres from Friday 30th April and we can now let you know some further details.

From that date, our centres Redwings Aylsham and Redwings Caldecott, both in Norfolk, and Redwings Oxhill in Warwickshire, will be opening every weekend, Friday to Monday, from 10.30am. Paddock walks will close at 3pm but our gift shops and cafes will remain open until 4pm, in line with Government guidance at the time.

Entry will remain free (although donations will be very welcome) but, just like previously, a time slot for your visit will need to be booked in advance online. Tickets will become available very soon so please keep an eye on this blog anf our social media channels for updates!

Redwings Ada Cole in Essex and Redwings Mountains in Angus, Scotland, will be offering private tours on Fridays and Mondays, one weekend per month, for now. These will be able to be booked directly with the centres themselves and we’ll be sharing with you how you can do that shortly.

We can’t wait for you to see your favourite Redwings residents again! We hope you’ll also extend a warm welcome to some new faces, including one fans of this blog may already be familiar with.

Do you remember poor Thoroughbred cross Zac who we took into the Sanctuary at the beginning of this year in an emaciated state? Now, after plenty of care and love from our vets and welfare team, he has moved this week to his new home at Redwings Aylsham, where he will join a herd of new friends!

I couldn’t think of a better symbol of hope and a happier ending to this week’s edition!

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Zac upon his arrival at Redwings Aylsham this week.

However this past year has treated you, we wish you all a safe, happy and healthy rest of 2021. Thank you for your support of the #CoronaChronicles and, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be writing to you from my office desk with a view of ponies grazing outside my window once again.

To read last week's edition of the #CoronaChronicles, please click here.