One of the area’s best-loved ‘tough cookies’ and former glamour puss Barby Keel, turns 82 next week and to celebrate the occasion reflected on the past 54 years since founding her namesake animal sanctuary at Bexhill.
Barby, who celebrates her 82nd birthday on February 23, says she was verging on the edge of a modelling career when aged 28 she had an idea and dream to spend her life looking after unwanted and neglected animals.
A few years later with then partner Les Keel and her Dad they moved from Eastbourne to Bexhill and bought a 4 acre field and caravan at Freezeland Lane. Soon after they began to take animals in.
“As the years went by we had more and more coming in,” she said. “With a lot of hard work and determination we started to work towards a sanctuary, but then Les decided it was not the life he wanted so he left, leaving me and my dad to carry on.
“With the help of my really good friends and motley crew and the support of the public we are now a lovely 12 acre sanctuary, my dream has become a reality and the Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary was born. I’m often called a tough cookie, I think the reason I have got tough is because I’ve led a hard life with quite a few problems such as seeing our house blown up in the war and surviving serious health issues but as my mother always said ‘Barby if you get a problem face it and think positive and you will get through it’, and she was right.
“Over the years we have rescued thousands of animals, what an achievement. I feel really proud of what we have done and what we are still doing. Now as I celebrate my 82nd birthday I just wanted to say thank you from myself and my 600 animals for keeping my dream alive. I have not regretted one minute and hope to continue our work a bit longer.”
Happy birthday Barby, from your friends at the Observer.
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