Meet the Hopefield Staff: Marissa our Activities Host/Animal Caregiver

Next up in our series of Hopefield staff interviews is our lovely Marissa…

As one of the best places to see animals in Essex we have to make sure that our rescues are happy, healthy and loved, which we couldn’t do without our amazing team of staff and volunteers. We hope you’ve been enjoying getting to know some of the human faces you’ve seen on your visits to the sanctuary, so we’re continuing our series by introducing you properly to Marissa, one of our wonderful Activities Host/Animal Caregiver. Marissa, over to you…

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always knew I wanted to work with animals, and my dad always said I should be a vet but as a child it seemed to me that vets had to deal with too much of the heart break side of animal care, and while I have a much better understanding of how rewarding being a vet is now that I am an adult, I don’t think that I would have made a good vet – I would be too emotional! I certainly always knew that I wanted to work with animals rather than people.

How did you find out about Hopefield Animal Sanctuary?

A week before I turned 16 my mum saw a call out for volunteers for the sanctuary, so we immediately got in touch.

What was your first role at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary?

I started at the sanctuary as an animal volunteer, but then I took on roles in Max’s Cafe and the gift shop during the summer holidays. I loved being in the gift shop as Tilly the Cat would always hang out there with my and we had some great conversations. I went back to animal care when the opportunity came up because I missed being with all the rescued residents.

Tell us about your role as Animal Caregiver / Activities Host at Hopefield, and fill us in on what a day in the life of Marissa generally looks like…

Marissa and Lolly best places to see animals in Essex

My role as an Animal Caregiver fills me with pride as it really does feel like a privilege to be working with such beautiful souls .A typical day for me at the moment largely consists of caring for our horses, ponies and donkeys. I love getting to work and caring for all our equines, making sure they have food, water, their medications where needed and all the unconditional love I can give them. I get huge personal and career satisfaction knowing that I help to make a difference in these animals lives, and that I can go home knowing that they are safe, happy and fed.

I also cover birthday parties and ethical animal experiences as part of my other role as Activities Host, and it’s always lovely to meet our visitors and help them have the best time that they can when visiting Hopefield.

What have been your highlight/s of working for Hopefield Animal Sanctuary?

Stand out highlights for me would be getting to know the animals and learning about their different personalities and characters. Pebbles the Sheep, for example, greets me every day as I walk past her paddock with a happy bleat and jump. As the animals have gotten to know and trust me they have revealed more of their funny little ways to me too, and that’s a real highlight for sure.

I’ve also loved getting to know the staff here at Hopefield. It makes Hopefield a lovely place to be thanks to a happy, calm work environment full of people I really enjoy spending time with. Lianne our General Manager, especially, is a huge inspiration to me. She’s been the one responsible for training me and it makes me so happy that she never makes me feel silly when I am asking questions. Her bond with the animals is so inspiring.

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

Marissa and Kisses best places to see animals in Essex

When I first started at Hopefield I was extremely anxious and uncomfortable to be in social settings, especially when I had to talk to strangers. However, being at Hopefield has definitely helped me to manage my anxiety, and now I love chatting to anyone who will listen!

Do you have a favourite animal at the sanctuary?

I can’t just have one favourite animal! Because I work mostly with the horses though there are a few of them that have special places in my heart such as Palmer, Little Louis, Leo, Baby  and Sid. I also have a huge soft spot for Meg who I call my little Megatron or Megaloo.

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

Simone the Cow where to see animals in Essex things to do in Essex with kids
Simone xx

There have been two cases that really hurt my heart while being at Hopefield. The first was when Rosco the cat got really sick and I was too late to say goodbye to him. Even now I forget that he has gone and I am still in the habit of putting aside the Whiskers Chicken for him as this was the one food that didn’t disagree with his tummy.

The second case that really got to me was when we lost Simone the cow. Despite numerous vet visits we had to make the decision to let her go. When I got the call to let me know that the time had come to make that decision I rushed down to shower her with kisses and cuddles, and months later I still miss her so much. She was such a gentle, kind old lady and I’ll never stop missing her.

Tell us 3 things about you that might surprise people


    • I do my own tattoos. I have over 40 now – including one of Simone the cow – and only two of them have been done by a professional.


    • I’m scared of spiders but I own two jumping spiders.


    • I snapped my wrist playing football when I was 12.


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

I see Hopefield absolutely thriving in five years time so long as the wonderful public continue to support us by visiting us, donating to us and helping to raise our profile via social media. With new business ventures such as the upcoming dog grooming facility, Brentwood Bubbles ‘n’ Barks starting up, this will bring in more funding which in turn can help the sanctuary continue to grow. Who knows how many happy, rescued animals there will be in five years time seeing as we already have 600+ and counting!

Thank you, Marissa!


Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up here for the fun updates from the animals, information about the latest news at the sanctuary and exclusive offers and events.

Join our mailing list

Join Hopefield’s mailing list to be the first to know about all things happening at the sanctuary and exclusive offers and events!