AN animal rehoming centre is hoping Bexhill residents won’t forget the many unwanted cats and dogs found across the Bexhill area when deciding who to buy presents for this Christmas.
Bluebell Ridge is run by the Sussex East and Hastings Branch of the RSPCA and costs more than £150,000 a year to keep open. And, despite being linked to the national charity, the local RSPCA branch is completely self-funded, meaning it relies entirely on the generosity of the local community.
Earlier this week the charity’s volunteers held a Christmas fair at St Martha’s Church in Little Common – raising £238 in the process.
But as spokesman Mary Bristow explained, the amount, while most welcome, is a drop in the ocean in terms of the cash needed to keep up the rehoming efforts.
She said: “We desperately need people to help with our fundraising. Whether that be running in a sponsored race, holding an open garden, picking up collection tins from shops, organising fundraisers or anything else, all help will be appreciated. We rely heavily on volunteers to do all sorts of things and we are lucky because we have a lot of people who give up their time but we can always do with more – particularly on the fundraising side of things.
“Any donations at this time of year would be very welcome. We have a shop in Western Road which supports our local branch and people can make donations, or buy Christmas cards or other items in there.
“It costs a lot of money to run Bluebell Ridge and we are always full with animals waiting to be rehomed. We survive because of people’s generosity.”
One significant area of fundraising comes in the form of legacies left in people’s wills, although Mrs Bristow said if anyone was considering doing that it was important to stress if they wanted it to go to the local branch otherwise it could get swallowed up by the national charity.
As well as the cattery at Bluebell Ridge, the branch also provides a dog-rehoming service and has found new families for more than 100 dogs in the last year alone.
And, while fewer animals tend to be sent to new homes during the Christmas period, Mrs Bristow said she believed there were lots of people living locally who would benefit from an animal in their lives
“We do not rehouse as many cats and dogs at Christmas because it can be quite a hectic, busy time to try and settle an animal in, but they make excellent companions and can really enrich people’s lives.”
But are they expecting a post-Christmas rush of suddenly unwanted animals? “We are always busy,” she said. “Some people just leave their animals in boxes at the gate of the cattery.”
Visit www.bluebellridge.org.uk or call 01424 752121.