Derby’s only horse, pony and donkey sanctuary – Homeward Bound Rescues – which opened its doors in September is in desperate need of wood shavings to see them through the winter.

“You could say I jumped in with both feet and have done everything the wrong way round, but setting up a rescue centre has always been a dream of mine,” says Anne Sammon (55), who has ridden and kept horses since she was child. “Most people raise the money first, buy the land and then offer refuge!

“My daughter Kalyna and I each had our ownhorses when I was contacted by the owners of Nuggett, an eight-year-old bay gelding with back problems. They could no longer cope with him and he was going to be put down.

It was the push I needed. A five-acre field and some stables came up for rent and I grabbed the opportunity. We are now hoping to be able to rent adjoining five- and eight-acre fields which will then mean we will need a great deal of electric fencing,” adds Anne.

Four months on there is a committee of 10 and an army of volunteers – who have helped with such jobs as fencing and connecting up water and daily mucking out eight stables – and Anne is very grateful. But this is an expensive time of year.

“We had a lovely surprise recently when someone donated 120 bales of hay. At £2 a bale that’s some saving and will help towards other expenses such as the farrier, dentist and vet. Other people have also been very generous sending us rugs, tack and buckets. But our main expense is wood shavings and we do like to give a horse who is ill or old a really deep bed.

“The majority of horses – there are currently 10 – have problems which can be either behavioural or health. But in the future and after thorough assessment we hope to be able to rehome some of them on loan,” adds Anne.

“Our New Year project is to visit schools and get them to adopt a horse. They will get a newsletter keeping them up-to-date on their horse’s progress, as well as being able to visit. I’d like to think we could take the horse to, say, the school’s summer fete. But at the moment we are having to depend on the people with horseboxes and trailers for transport.

“We are holding an open day on 15 December at the sanctuary and in the summer hope to arrange a fund-raising weekend with stalls and other activities. Throughout the year we will also be holding tombolas and selling off things at car boot sales to raise much-needed cash.”

The centre is currently applying for charity status.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing even though I have done it back to front. The greatest reward is when a horse that has been brought in and is crawling up the walls with fear for whatever reason is nuzzling up to you just a week later. There is no feeling like it.”

If you would like to help you can contact Anne during the day (tel: 07961 522841) or during the evening (tel: 01332 544393).