Bexhill sanctuary ‘devastated’ after having to cancel its open day

Barby Keel. Photo by Derek Canty SUS-170708-082543001
Barby Keel. Photo by Derek Canty SUS-170708-082543001

A charity says it has had to cancel its open day this year due to roadworks.

Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary, based in Freezeland Lane, Sidley, holds the popular event every summer and was due to run it on August 12.

But Watermill Lane, which leads to the sanctuary, will be closed from Monday (July 9) as part of the construction process for the North Bexhill Access Road (NBAR), which is expected to be completed in October.

Barby Keel, from the sanctuary, said: “We’re very disappointed not to be able to hold the open day, not only for ourselves but also for the people who come every year to the event.

“We’ll lose around £12,000 in donations. We’ve been holding the open day every year for more than 30 years.

“£12,000 is a hell of a lot of money to lose. We’re all very upset about this and devastated.

“I’ve had so many people ringing me up asking about this, as they look forward to coming to the event, seeing the animals.”

A spokesman for Sea Change, which is responsible for the NBAR construction, said: “We’re sorry the temporary closure of Watermill Lane means some people will have a longer journey while works are carried out, but it’s the only way we can complete the NBAR and connect it to Watermill Lane.

“We’ve made great efforts to leave this element of the works to the end of the two-and-a-half-year construction project to minimise any inconvenience.

“We’ve been made aware that the road closure coincides with the Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary’s planned open day in August, but this timing is unavoidable.

“We’ve spoken to the animal sanctuary and explained the reasons for the closure, and that unfortunately we can’t re-open Watermill Lane for the day because it will be a construction site at that point.

“We appreciate it will be a slightly longer journey, but people from Sidley will still be able to visit the sanctuary via Watermill Lane’s northern end if they use the diversion route via Ninfield and Catsfield, and anyone coming from the north will have access to the sanctuary via Watermill Lane as normal.”

Anyone wanting to donate to the sanctuary can visit

It is also holding a table sale on September 8 at Christ Church Hall, St Leonards.