From little acorns - Mid Animal Sanctuary looks to the next 25 years

AS Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary at Greystone Road prepares to celebrate its 25th Anniversary later this month, over the next few weeks the Antrim Guardian will be taking a look back in time to see how far the charity has come in a quarter of a century.

This week we look at the massive transformation in the facilities available to the animals in the care of the sanctuary.

Formerly a collection of old farm outbuildings, decked in barbed wire, with staff working in makeshift offices and kitchens and animals housed anywhere and everywhere in donated and re-purposed enclosures, a multi-million pound transformation now means that Mid Antrim has purpose built kennels and a cattery, a training barn, conference facilities and ample parking for visitors.

A spokesperson for the the charity said: “We’re delighted to announce that we celebrate our 25th Anniversary on 22nd April 2021 when our journey began as an independent charity continuing the work of the USPCA.

“Our aim then and continues today is to address and educate on animal welfare issues and offer re-homing opportunities for unwanted and neglected dogs, cats and many, many more!

“While there have been many changes our core objectives remain unchanged and this is something we are immensely proud of.

“We estimate that over the last 25 years we have found forever homes for almost 20,000 animals and an unquantifiable number have been rescued from cruelty and distress – we hope you agree this is amazing and something to shout about.

“Our staff complement may have changed over the years however a core of staff members have remained with us throughout our journey, in particular Margaret who transferred over from the USPCA and for some time was the only employee; together we have over 100 years of animal welfare experience within our staff team.

“We have welcomed many volunteers in many capacities over the last 25 years including work and Duke of Edinburgh placements; the journey of our volunteers have been different, some with us over our lifetime and some for the shorter term however all have the same passion for animal welfare and have provided an invaluable commitment to our work.

“2012 saw the completion of our long awaited new building which was the result of many years of fundraising and has cemented us as one of the leading animal welfare organisations in Northern Ireland while ensuring our long term sustainability and our commitment to unwanted animals in the future.

“We’re delighted to announce that, in this our anniversary year, work will commence to develop our additional land to the rear of our premises, which includes outdoor runs for our dogs, including an agility area, a bespoke puppy unit and meet and greet building.

“Of course none of our work would have been possible without our supporters, all of whom have followed our journey, supported us and were there when we needed them most; for this we cannot express our immense gratitude.

“To celebrate we are holding an Anniversary Ballot and the money raised from this will go towards the development costs of our outdoor space, we hope you will again find it in your hearts to support us. You can do this by clicking here for the justgiving ballot.

“We also hope you enjoy looking at some of our photographs from times gone past.

“While things have definitely changed the core of our work has not and all of it has only been possible due to the fantastic supporter network we have, without you none of this would have been possible!”

Additionally, in February 2021, the volunteers said farewell to one of their founding members and Sanctuary stalwart Joyce Graham.

The spokesperson continued: “Joyce, who had been involved with the USPCA prior to its closure in April 1996, was one of the inspirational founding members who orchestrated the beginning of a new charity, Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary, having realised the real need for the continuation of animal welfare, education and the rehoming of unwanted and neglected dogs and cats in the area.

“Joyce spent 19 years in the role of Treasurer of the Sanctuary however her role was much, much bigger than this; she was involved in every aspect of the charity and ran most of it from her dining room alongside her beloved rescue dogs.

“Joyce’s name was synonymous of the work, values and commitment of this wonderful Sanctuary.

“Of the almost 20,000 dogs, cats and many other animals that have found their forever home have done so in Joyce’s memory and this is something really special.

“Joyce was involved in the development of the Sanctuary throughout the last 25 years and its current position as a leading animal welfare charity in Northern Ireland is due to Joyce’s commitment and dedication and will be her lasting legacy.

“Tributes will be placed at the Sanctuary in Joyce’s memory, without her we would not be here celebrating our 25th Anniversary year.”

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