The provision of care and shelter for stray, neglected and unwanted animals of all kinds and the protection of animals from ill-usage, cruelty and suffering.
Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary is one of the largest of its kind in the North West of England. It now boasts a 55 acre site in Edenfield near Ramsbottom, Lancashire and is uniquely positioned to cover a wide geographical area stretching across Lancashire to the Pennines and down in to Greater Manchester. Bleakholt is under constant development so as to be able to provide the very best possible care for over 450 animals currently with us.
So where did it all begin? As with many such charities it gradually evolved. It was started by a very kind lady, Olive Lomas, who saved a lucky donkey named Maudie from slaughter. Her hard work and commitment continued thereby saving many horses. In 1957, the project moved on to Bleakholt Farm in the Pennine foothills above Ramsbottom. In the 60’s and 70’s our cats and dogs were housed in leaky wooden buildings. Our horses had old railway carriages for shelter. This was all we could afford. The site and work of the Sanctuary has steadily expanded and improved since then. Additions included a block of heated catteries and heated kennels. We now have purpose built stables and 1999 saw the opening of a cat and kitten building. We now have a dog hospital, where we are able to provide minor treatments and an appropriate environment for those of our dogs who are under the weather. Our Waddington kennel block was re-built in 2005, and 2006 saw the re-building of another block named Keller block. Both of these blocks have all the latest “mod cons” including underfloor heating and sliding hatches. Improvements are needed all the time. We have completed a much needed new toilet block in 2007 and an extra cat building was completed in 2008 allowing all our felines to be housed in one area. Moving forward, we have recently renovated our Puppy Unit, improved our equine facilities by refurbishing the Round Pen and building a new outside Equine Arena, renovated our Dog Agility Area, increased our space to home rabbits, to name but a few. In the future we hope to be able to build a new dog kennel block to include new facilities such as a home environment simulation room to aid in training exercises.
In 1969 Bleakholt became a registered charity. Our first president was Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. Our latest president, appointed in 2003, is Ted Robbins who you will know from TV (including “Phoenix Nights”) and radio. Currently he has a programme on Radio Lancashire. He has been a visitor to Bleakholt with his family on a number of occasions in the past so we were pleased he accepted our invitation to be our president. He regularly promotes the good work of the Sanctuary, for which we are very grateful, as well as joining us on Open Days when his busy schedule allows. In 2016 well known Actress and Bury born Gemma Atkinson, probably best known at present for her part in Emmerdale, agreed to be our Vice President. Gemma is a very keen animal lover and used to visit Bleakholt as a child. She has done a lot of fundraising for us and visits on a regular basis. In January 2006, acting upon the advice of the Charities Commission, Bleakholt changed its status to a limited company.
The overall planning and management of Bleakholt falls to our Board of Directors (Trustees) who hold monthly meetings. These Directors are members elected at our Annual General Meeting. The day to day tasks of running the Sanctuary and caring for our charges is carried out by our dedicated staff. They are backed up by our army of supporters and volunteers who provide their time and help in so many ways and without whom the Sanctuary could not continue. We are extremely grateful for all the hard work they do.