Campaigners fight to save ‘wonderful’ Uckfield horse rescue centre

A nationally-known centre which rehabilitates horses could be forced to close.

Sussex Horse Rescue Trust based at Hempstead Farm, Uckfield requires urgent support if it is to continue to care for equines through the winter.

Pauline Grant

Pauline Grant

Founder Pauline Grant told the Express: “I started this group fifty years ago. At present we have 134 horses out on loan and 80 on the farm.

“I live here with my Rottweilers which I need to keep secure and this is my home. I’ve now had a legal letter which is telling me I have to get out and the property and the land will be sold on.

“I panicked as I was told I had to be out by December. I can’t go anywhere and what is going to happen to the horses? And all the other animals we look after?”

The issue is complex as the property is owned by the Trust but when the Express attempted to speak to a trustee, a reporter was told: “We can’t speak to you.”

Sussex Horse Rescue Trust based at Hempstead Farm, Uckfield

Sussex Horse Rescue Trust based at Hempstead Farm, Uckfield

Then an email arrived two days later.  

Pauline and her son are taking legal advice.

Meanwhile supporters have started a Facebook campaign: “Save Sussex Horse Rescue Trust.”

It states: “Urgent action required - potential impending closure of Sussex Horse Rescue Trust.

“As our supporters know we have rescued equines since 1960.

“Sadly times have changed and SHRT can no longer able to keep the sanctuary financially stable. 
“There are two options, fight to remain and continue to give sanctuary to needy welfare cases or close the doors and look for homes for the 80 equines and other animals we have on the premises which would lead them to an unsecured future.

“All involved want to fight and truly believe we can get help we need from you the loyal supporters.”
Campaigner Linda McDonnell said: “I’ve helped the wonderful Trust for 49 years and Pauline taught me to ride.

“Financially it is not surviving and we believe two remaining Trustees would like it to be closed as they plan to relocate horses elsewhere.

“Sadly people now donate to the big charities rather than smaller local ones.

“We have now secured a bank account which cannot be touched by anyone else and ask people to donate what they are able.

“We feel passionately that this wonderful organisation must continue.

Already there’s been 20,000 ‘views’ of the Facebook page.”

To sign or donate visit: ‘Save Sussex Horse Rescue’ on Facebook.

A letter to the Express from the Sussex Horse Rescue Trustees states: “We are aware that there is speculation that Sussex Horse Rescue Trust is to close. The Trustees are currently in consultation with our staff about the best way forward and would ask for respect whilst we are in discussion with those people who would be directly affected.

“Any potential closure would also require the rehoming of our resident horses and donkeys and so all the implications of this are being being carefully considered. We will issue a further update as soon as we are able and we wish to make it clear that the only official statements will come from the Board of Trustees via official outlets.

“There are no other official spokespersons for the Charity.”