Ricky Gervais backs charity fighting for abandoned horses

Comedian Ricky Gervais is among those backing a struggling charity that specialises in rescuing mistreated and abandoned fly-grazed horses and ponies.

SAFE, which is based near Reading, Berkshire, has had to stop taking in new rescues after running low on funds.

The organisation appealed for help and its post was shared by Ricky — who is from Reading — on his Facebook page.

“We’re lucky we have a connection to him through his niece and he was decent enough to share the appeal for us,” said SAFE’s founder Alison. “We have had a few donations come in since, even from some people in the US.”

The charity’s appeal fund now stands at around £7,000 but Alison said the day-to-day running expenses are still mounting.

“We spend £300 a week on hay at the moment,” she said. “Although we don’t have any money, we never scrimp on top quality feed. Everything that we take in goes into quarantine, is strangles-tested and blood-tested and the vet is constantly out — it all adds up.”

The charity runs from basic premises that do not have running water.

“We have always had to ferry water in with a bowser,” Alison said. “I think people see us on social media and know we are a successful charity and they think we have rolling fields and lovely shiny stable blocks but it’s far from the truth. We do what we can with the limited resources we have but we have been struggling for a while.

“We are successful rehoming our horses and have found lovely homes for many of them but the equine crisis carries on.”

Alison reassured supporters that the charity is not closing, it does not urgently need to rehome horses and that support for the horses it has rehomed will continue.

“I have seen a lot of posts saying we’re closing — we’re not but we can’t take in any more until we have our funds sorted and are sure we’ve got enough to last the horses currently in our care through the winter,” she said. “Other than that, we are carrying on as normal.

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“If we do come across rescue cases we will work with the landowners to try and find somewhere for them, find another rescue or post on our Facebook page looking for homes. We will still do home checks but will not get involved financially, but we’ll still be at the end of the phone and email and Facebook messenger doing what we can to help people.”

Alison said what the charity needs more than anything is a regular secure income, and appealed to horse owners to sign up for a monthly donation of “just the price of one cup of coffee”.

“We have more than 10,000 followers on Facebook, so if they all did that we would be secure,” she said.

More about SAFE and options for donating can be found on its Facebook page or its website, where there is also a list of horses and ponies available for rehoming.

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