Updated: Jan 1, 2021
We are very thankful to have arrived at the end of December 2020 in one piece. When Covid 19 hit all of us in Spring, we truly wondered if a small charity like ours could or would survive. We are used to operating on a shoestring but, being reliant on donations from the public; revenue from fairs and events which, of course were cancelled, we really had to consider what we would do with our horses and other animals if we could no longer afford to support them financially – it doesn’t bear thinking about. Who would take them? What would the alternative be? Most of our costs can be budgeted for such as feed, hay, regular foot care from our farrier, wormers etc (some of these costs treble in the winter months) but it only takes one horse to injure themselves out in our fields, or one of our elderly residents to get ill to incur a huge, unforeseen vet bill to unbalance the whole financial situation, so we really do exist from day to day.
Throughout this year we have experienced a huge increase in requests to take in horses whose owners can no longer keep them simply due to changes in their personal finances. This is heartbreaking to hear but we are operating at full capacity right now and it would be irresponsible to take in more horses than we can support.
However ……. it’s not all doom and gloom because we have all of you wonderful people who believe that what we do has value and who support us financially through monthly sponsorship of our horses; grants from charitable organisations; one off donations and answering our calls for help with manpower – you never let us down and we couldn’t do what we do without every single one of you. Many people have given preloved rugs, tack and grooming items which we always need – many times these items are from people who have lost their own horses and want to help which is so touching. Another huge part of what makes us tick are the people who give up their time to come and work with us – it’s been hard to operate with a reduced volunteer team but we work in an outside environment which makes it easier to manage and we do use sanitizers and gloves. Please don’t feel offended if you have offered to help but it’s been declined - contact us again in Spring 2021 – we need you.
Below I’ve outlined a few key things that have happened with our charity this year and tried to thank as many people as possible. It’s impossible to name everyone individually but I hope this covers most people. We would like to produce a quarterly/bi-annual newsletter for our supporters but this is our starting point to see if there is an appetite for this sort of thing so please give us feedback if this is of interest and provide your email address.
We have replaced what seems like miles of old, dilapidated wire fencing with post and rails this year using new materials when we could afford it and also recycled wood from around the farm – thanks to the time and energy given by Chris Knight, various volunteers and our team using our hydraulic post rammer, funded by Windsor Lions in 2019. This is a key area for us
going forward but it an expensive activity so we can only do it in small sections as and when funds are available to buy new posts and rails. There is much, much more to do but it’s paramount to the effective management of our land and the safety of our herd and it really does make the farm much more pleasing to the eye.
In August we had an amazing day when over 20 people gave up a Saturday to come and carry out various jobs around the farm. It was a blazing hot day but everyone worked so hard and so much was achieved: new roof put onto our stable block to stop it leaking; painting the stables inside and out; fixing fences; pulling ragwort out in the fields (this can make horses very sick if eaten and we have 42 acres to manage).
Drinks and snacks were donated by Tesco to help everyone in the heat (thanks to Elle for organising). The atmosphere was amazing and everyone enjoyed interacting with our pigs, goats, dogs and chickens who wandered around the yard getting lots of treats and attention. The amount of work done would have taken our team many weeks to do ourselves so our thanks go out to everyone who helped. Circumstances permitting, we will be arranging a few more of these days in 2021 – it’s a great option for Corporate team days too so look out for announcements and come along for a very worthwhile day. Our thanks to Carly and Chris for pulling this together and co-ordinating the day.
One of our youngest volunteers, Penny Williams (aged 6 at the time) rode her scooter from the War Horse Memorial statue in Ascot to the Copper Horse in Windsor Great Park, a distance of 6.5 miles, to raise funds for Blue Acre. She raised over £1700 – an amazing achievement for anyone let alone someone so young. Penny is a regular at the farm and has a real bond with one of our ponies (also called Penny!) so with the help of the fabulous Rangers from the Great Park, we were able to transport Penny pony in our gorgeous trailer, bought for us by Adrian Baker, right up to the Copper Horse statue to meet Penny at the end of her journey. It was a very emotional moment when Penny arrived on her scooter to be met by her pony pal. Penny’s entire family are wonderful supporters of our charity so huge thanks to Claire, Jamie and Lola too for everything they do for us.
War Horse Memorial
We are very proud to be one of the beneficiary charities of this fabulous organisation which raises funds for several animal related charities in the name of all animals who served alongside our soldiers in WW1. They produce the lovely purple poppies which we sell (we keep 100% of sales revenue); they partner with many organisations worldwide and raise funds by holding gala dinner/dance events and poppy sales. They too have had to cancel events but they have managed to stage an amazing virtual Christmas concert which can be watched on YouTube. During this year Alan Carr, Susan Osborne and Margaret Carr have responded to our calls for help with funding on more than one occasion for which we are so very grateful. Their website is https://thewarhorsememorial.org/about-us/. We have had many meetings with Alan and he has helped us so much due to his extensive knowledge of charity administration and fundraising options. He has acted as a reference for grant applications and also introduced us to the process of obtaining street collection licensing and has joined us on several occasions including a very prestigious day collecting inside Ascot Racecourse.
We were first introduced to Adrian at a Christmas dinner dance held by the War Horse Memorial in December 2018 at Cowarth Park where Blue Acre was the main beneficiary of funds raised. Veanne, one of our Trustees, gave a presentation outlining our core work but also talked about our dreams and goals, the main one at that time being to purchase a new horse trailer (ours was 25 years old!) Adrian offered to purchase a new trailer for us, which we are now the proud owners of and it’s been sign-written free of charge by a local professional.
Since that first meeting, Adrian has visited us more than once and has a real understanding of our charity. He has helped us in numerous ways: his accountancy company prepares our accounts to an exceptional standard, free of charge; donates a monthly fee to help with our feed costs; has acted as a reference for grant applications and for the last two years has donated an annual grant he receives for distribution to a charity of his choice which, this year, has enabled us to clear our vet and hay bill. Adrian has extensive knowledge of horses due to his dressage interests and is always on the end of the phone if we need him. His endless support and guidance is invaluable to us.
Marchig Trust – Grant Awarded
In June this year we applied to the Marchig Trust who specialise in helping animal charities worldwide for a grant to help to pay our vet bill which had grown beyond our means due to an unfortunate run of sickness and injuries (horses aren’t aware that there is a pandemic going on!). They agreed not only to that request but also awarded us an additional sum to pay for some hay. This was a huge boost for our morale at a crucial time and was a real lifeline. We are so grateful to them and the wonderful work they do to support animal charities needing help.
We are now registered for Gift Aid which means that we are able to claim an additional 25p in every £ from HMRC on donations made where UK tax has been paid on the donation at no cost to the donor. We are in the process of tracking back (we can go back 4 years) and sending forms or asking for written confirmation from people who have given donations in the past and going forward. We would like to thank everyone who has filled in a form or agreed verbally for us to do this, it’s the icing on the cake for us and makes every penny given really worthwhile.
This is a wonderful company based in Datchet, Berkshire who will convert any unwanted currency, even old or pre Euro coins or notes, into GBP and donate it to Blue Acre by taking it to their office near the station. There is a short form to complete which can be downloaded from their website and choosing Blue Acre as your chosen charity or they have forms in the office. A huge bonus is that they will add an additional 5% of the conversion proceeds to us so we send a big thank you to Mario and Aleksandra for including us as one of their charities. Website is https://www.leftovercurrency.com/
Now for some more thank yous – in some cases there are too many people to mention by name and sometimes people prefer to remain anonymous but I hope you recognise yourself in the categories below – we know who you are and we value each and every one of you xx
Monthly Sponsorship Programme
We have a scheme whereby people can sponsor one of our horses or ponies from as little as £10 per month and we can arrange for you to come and choose a pony to sponsor. You will get a certificate acknowledging your sponsorship. This scheme is our “bread and butter”; this is the money we know is coming in regularly and enables us to budget for feed and hay – some of the few costs we can reliably calculate and budget for. Our thanks go out to everyone who takes part in this scheme, your generosity means so much. So thanks to: Sharon; Courtney; Jo; Pat; Jo-Anne; Lynn, Kunal, Mike, Marnie and Tommy.
Donations come to us by various means, sometimes they are anonymous and we have no way of thanking the giver; examples of this are:
Amazon Smile: where Amazon makes a donation to us when people sign up for the scheme and choose us as their chosen charity – we have promoted this scheme and we thank everyone who has signed up.
Donation Tins: placed in various pubs/clubs, cafes, shops around the local area. Although they consist mostly of small coins it’s amazing how this mounts up and makes a huge difference. Local places to thank are The Perseverance; Old Windsor Club; The Golden Cross; The Punch Bowl; The Bush; The Hope; Gardeners Hall; Old Windsor Cafe; Millwheel Tack Shop. So thank you to these establishments for hosting our donation boxes and also everyone who has given their loose change – you made a difference.
One off Donations: Sums given for various reasons such as instead of Birthday or Christmas gifts – Penny, Renate and Sam, or sometimes “just because” - Lynn, Pat, John and Patsy; Nick and Sarah; Sheila; Simon, Nicola; Sue, Helen; Adam and so many more who have donated through 2020. These are usually unexpected and truly brighten our day every time.
Calls for help: These are appeals for donations when we have a specific; unexpected and usually urgent or crucial need for funds to help our horses but sometimes are requests for old towels or duvets. We usually post these requests on Facebook group pages and our wonderful local communities come to our aid every single time no matter how many times we ask. You are all wonderful.
Our wonderful farrier, William Beach, has been shoeing or trimming the feet of our horses for several years. He is so good with our rescues, many of whom don’t have a great deal of trust in humans they don’t see regularly. Will and his team take their time and now know most of our horses well and treat them with kindness and empathy. Sometimes these guys will work with up to 12 horses over a few hours, in all weathers and offer their services at a reduced rate to our charity. This can be like painting the Forth Bridge with 50+ horses to care for and is one of our major costs so we are very grateful to Will for all he does.
We get a lot of requests from people wanting to come and help care for the animals at the farm (all in we have over 100 animals) and we always need help but this year we have been unable to take on many new volunteers. For this reason our regular volunteers have worked harder than ever to keep everyone fed, clean and exercised where necessary. These guys are at the farm in all weathers and help to create a safe and happy place for the animals in our care. They also learn all aspects of animal management; gain a sense of team work and responsibility not only to the animals but to each other. It’s so rewarding to see them grow in confidence in the work they do and in themselves (they are also great to have around and create a real fun atmosphere). So a HUGE thank you to Millie, Lucy, Chris, Mike, Donna, Tommy, Susie and Shannon.
Our grateful thanks to all others who have given time when they can, you are all valued.
Blue Acre team
Caron, Bob and Veanne who keep the wheels turning on what is a complex machine – so many animals to care for on a 42 acre site; people to manage; machinery to mend – the logistics of keeping the farm running smoothly is no mean feat. These people have the biggest hearts and their love for Blue Acre and all it stands for knows no limits.
If you’ve got this far then well done – we appreciate your interest and support. We truly couldn’t do what we do without people who believe in what we do.
Thank you to each and every one of you who supports us, even if it’s following us on Facebook, we appreciate it so much.
Here’s to 2021, whatever it brings, but we wish you all good health and happiness in all you do.
With love from
The Blue Acre Horse Rescue Team