Ferne Animal Sanctuary is a charity that provides care and shelter for domestic and agricultural animals whose owners are either unable or unwilling to look after them. The sanctuary cares for approximately 300 animals at its 51 acre site in Somerset. Founded in 1940, Ferne has 43 employees and over 100 volunteers.
Ferne’s history began in 1940 when it was founded by the Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon to provide a temporary refuge for animals belonging to service men and women who were sent abroad to fight in World War Two. Based at the Ferne Estate in Dorset, the charity continued to take in animals after the war. In 1975, the sanctuary moved to its present premises high in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. In 2015, Ferne celebrated its 75th anniversary.
The sanctuary is home to a collection of different animals including dogs, cats, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, birds and chinchillas. In addition, it actively seeks suitable homes for cats, dogs, rabbits and horses within a 40 mile radius of the sanctuary and regularly checks on their wellbeing after rehoming.
Another of Ferne’s activities is the delivery of talks at schools, local societies and residential homes.
Ferne Animal Sanctuary also provides free access to its site and offers guided tours. The sanctuary is open to visitors seven days a week and has a café staffed by volunteers. There are also three Ferne charity shops – in Bridport in Dorset and Chard and Ilminster in Somerset.
Ferne has more than 40 employees but also relies on volunteers to carry out much of its work. A network of volunteer home visitors, for example, regularly visit the homes of cats and dogs adopted from Ferne. Should an unexpected change occur in a rehomer’s life which results in them being unable to continue to offer the cat or dog a home, the animal is guaranteed a place at Ferne and need never be homeless again.
There are many other volunteer opportunities at Ferne, including a need for dog walking volunteers, cat socialisation volunteers, volunteer drivers, café volunteers, event volunteers, charity shop volunteers, estate helpers, office volunteers and fundraising volunteers.
The charity relies on donations and had an annual voluntary income of £1.27 million at the end of 2014.