Organisers of a charity sheep-racing afternoon at an Isfield farm say police had to be called when animal rights protestors started 'harassing children'.
More than 400 people attended the event at South Brockwells Farm, which had been organised to raise money for the restoration of St Michael and All Angels Church in Little Horsted, but trouble brewed when a group of women began shouting at participants - including young children.
Sarah Robinson, whose sister Chrissy Wells runs the farm with husband Arron and father David Douglas, said: “They weren’t part of any organised group but they were quite vocal and upsetting. They were opposed to livestock farming in general. If they have something to say, my sister would be very happy to listen, and talk to them.
"Their interruption was not welcomed. Police were called and the afternoon continued uninterrupted.”
Mrs Wells, said: “The RSPCA visited on Saturday and were enormously supportive. Our vets, Uckfield-based Blowey, Wood and Turrell even sponsored a race. We were delighted the afternoon was such fun and a huge success.
"We aimed for about £500 but finally raised more than £2,000. The children had been training the lambs which loved being the centre of attention. Their teddy bear jockeys looked fabulous in co-ordinating outfits and Toffee the terrier, was paddock mascot. We would like to thank local businesses who sponsored all the races, and everyone who sponsored a lamb.
“Interruptions were unpleasant but failed to disrupt the day. Huge thanks are due to everyone who worked so hard.
"If only people realised, we have to jump through such a lot of hoops regarding animal welfare. Our welfare standards in the UK are higher than anywhere else in the world. We really care for our animals and do our bet for them.
"We hope this will become an annual event. It was a bit of a challenge fitting it in during our busy asparagus season but well worth the effort.”
Races were attended by Holy Cross, Uckfield curate, Father Mitch who told the Express: "I was absolutely delighted with the community support which was given to this event which is for the benefit of the church's restoration appeal."
Visitors enjoyed a barbecue with sausages and burgers from Isfield Farm Shop plus cakes and tea made by the Little Horsted Church team. Local crafts were on sale and children enjoyed pony rides. Hope in the Valley Riding for the Disabled group also had a stand.
Sussex Police have been approached for comment.
Photos by Ron Hill.