Meet the Hopefield Staff: Lianne our General Manager

The one with Lianne…

If you’ve been reading our latest series of blogs whereby we’ve been interviewing our staff and volunteers, no doubt you have been waiting for this one. Yep, it’s the turn of our awesome General Manager, Lianne, a human so important to Hopefield that we don’t actually know what we would do without her! Over to you Lianne…

What did you want to do as a child when you grew up?

As a child I always wanted to work with animals. I didn’t know exactly what sort of job that would be, but I just knew that animals were going to be part of my future.

How did you find out about Hopefield Animal Sanctuary?

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I  lived in London all my life but after I left school my family wanted to move to Colchester. It was just a matter of luck that we were stuck in traffic on the A12 the day we were moving that I saw a sign for Hopefield. I called that day and was asked to call back in a few weeks so, in a few weeks I called back and again was told to call back in a few weeks! I kept calling and eventually they must have got sick of me calling because I was asked to come down and here I still am, two decades later!

Tell us about your role as General Manager of Hopefield, and what a day in the life of Lianne generally looks like…

As Hopefield’s General Manager my role is to ensure the day runs as smoothly as possible and that all the animals get what they need. I also have to organise staff and volunteers for the day and deal with a problems that may occur, for example when an animal gets sick.

Another part of my role is to help organise events and other fundraising activities that happen throughout the year here at Hopefield. As a charity entirely reliant on the generosity of the public our events and our visitor income are two of the main ways we generate the money needed to keep doing what we do. So, on that note, if you’re looking for things to do in Essex with kids this spring and summer, do come down and see us!

What have been your highlights of working for Hopefield Animal Sanctuary?

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One of my highlights is that I have hand raised many animals who I get to see their whole lives knowing that they will never experience the cruelty that some of our rescues have had to live through. I have raised everything from kittens to calves, piglets to turkeys, and most recently the cutest little muntjac!

Another highlight is all the great people and organisations I have met and worked with over the years. Getting to know other like minded people and organisations makes me proud to be part of the rescue community who make a massive difference to animals all over the world.

What have been some of the more notable challenges of working for Hopefield Animal Sanctuary?

Some notable challenges of working at Hopefield are when myself and Dave took over the running of Hopefield when Paula and Ernie were ill, and then sadly passed away. I’m not going to lie, it was probably the most emotional time of my Hopefield career. I was sad because for obvious reasons we were supporting two amazing people who had dedicated their lives to the sanctuary and watching them go through what they were going through was heartbreaking. I was also terrified of the massive responsibility of taking over. I was full of self-doubt wondering if I could actually continue their hard work ( I had no doubt Dave could do it), so all in all it was a very stressful time. On the flip side I felt privileged that Paula and Ernie trusted me, along with Dave, to move the sanctuary forward and help it grow.

COVID was also especially hard and we didn’t know if the sanctuary would survive at all. Having to have tragic conversations about what we would have to do if we couldn’t keep going, and where the animals would go was particularly devastating.  We had to come up with alternative fund raising ideas during those times including setting up Hopefield Fencing Services, and again the generosity of the public made an enormous difference to our survival.

But through all the challenging times just seeing the animals faces and watching them live their best lives here in safety keeps me going and makes the tough times worth it.

Do you have a favourite animal at the sanctuary?

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My favourite animal at Hopefield? Hmmmm, that’s a hard one. I have many but obviously my rescue dogs are my most favourite. I do have a special place in my heart for Jude the cow, Jammy and Peggy the pigs, Jimbo the marmoset and Ping the coati, although I love all our animals.

Has there been a particular case that has really affected you during your time at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary?

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There have been many cases that have affected me through the years (I am the emotional one after all). Most recently I would have to say the story of Blu really got to me. As her carer I feel so connected to her. Seeing her so scared and skinny when she arrived just broke my heart. How could anyone do that to an animal! I’ll never forget the first time she jumped up and hugged me as if she was saying “I trust you now keep me safe.”

We get so many calls of animals needing help that it gets overwhelming as I just want to help everything but unfortunately we just can’t. It baffles me why so many people get animals and then treat them the way they do and expect places like us to pick up the pieces.

Tell us three things about you that might surprise people…

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1. I have nine animal related tattoos.
2. If I hadn’t ended up in an animal care role, I was going to go into theatre.
3. My worst accident was being mowed down by George the naughty donkey. (I actually ended up in hospital!)

What do you see Hopefield looking like in five years time?

Without giving any future plans away I hope to see Hopefield even stronger than it is now and making a real difference in educating the younger generation in animal welfare. Watch this space: there are good things coming and we can’t wait to have you all along for the ride!

Thank you, Lianne!

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