Builder lends a farm hand in aid of charity

Hayley Bell and Dave Brown of Linden Homes get to know some of the animals at Hilltop Farm. They are pictured with Robin Hills, centre.
Hayley Bell and Dave Brown of Linden Homes get to know some of the animals at Hilltop Farm. They are pictured with Robin Hills, centre.

A housebuilder has come to the rescue of an animal sanctuary to help it batten down the hatches for winter.

Hilltop Farm has already suffered damage to shelters, sheds and fencing during a blustery autumn, but Linden Homes – which is building on two sites in nearby Morpeth – has stepped in to handle the repairs.

The not-for-profit operation, located at Gorfenletch just off the A697 between Heighley Gate and Longhorsley, was established by Robin Hills 18 years ago as a safe haven for injured, abandoned or vulnerable animals.

It became a registered charity last year.

Linden Homes is building houses at the Saint George site and at the Fairways, close to Morpeth Golf Club.

Its North East division has raised more than £35,000 in the last three years, through charitable events and donations, to support a range of good causes.

Dave Brown, operations director with the company in the North East, said: “This is a slightly different building project to the ones we are used to, but when we heard about the weather damage at the sanctuary, we just knew we had to help.”

Mr Hills, a veterinary nurse, and his family devote pretty much all of their spare time to caring for the animals. There are more than 350 of them – including horses, donkeys, goats, ducks, pigs, alpacas, llamas and chickens – at the moment.

He said: “Although a registered charity, we are quite tucked away and people are often surprised to hear that we exist.

“Donations and support, like this fantastic offer from Linden Homes, help us to keep going and free up more of our resources to feed into our ambitious plans.

“Our hope is to bring more businesses and members of the community on board to help develop Hilltop Farm into an educational centre, where school groups and families can come to see and learn about the animals.

“However, to be able to do this, we need to invest in a lot of infrastructure – such as visitor toilets, a classroom and a separate lunch area.

“We have online fund-raising pages set-up and any donations would be gratefully received.”

The developer has also hosted several events to encourage young people to find out more about careers in construction, while supporting the creation of 12 apprenticeships and 40 work experience placements for local people on the two Morpeth sites.

Mr Brown added that the company feels Hilltop Farm “could become a fantastic attraction and educational centre”.

For more information about Hilltop Farm, or to make a donation, go to www.hilltopfarmanimalsanctuary.org