‘We’ll never give up’: charity founder desperate for new home after land sold for development

An equine care home and therapy centre is desperately seeking new premises after the site it occupied for 12 years was sold for development.

Suffolk-based French’s Care Haven has been temporarily housed by supporters in Felixstowe but this land has been also earmarked for houses, leaving the centre in urgent need of a permanent home.

The charity, run by founder Jann Turner, cares for 17 rescued horses and donkeys, many of whom are elderly. It also provides equine therapy for a range of local organisations, including schoolchildren with behavioural problems, groups with learning difficulties and people suffering from eating disorders and anxiety.

“We put a lot of work into the farm we were at in Hadleigh but it was sold to some people in London who put planning permission in to develop it straight away,” said Jann. “We’d paid to re-roof buildings, for fencing and to put in ménages and we had plans to add extra facilities, so it was devastating to see it all go.”

She said work was due to start on the development at the current site and she is waiting to hear any day that the charity has eight weeks’ notice to leave.

Jann has been trying to find a minimum of 20 acres with outbuildings to rent anywhere in Suffolk but has so far been unsuccessful.

“We’re not asking anyone to give it to us, we’re happy to pay rent,” Jann said. “The number of doors I have knocked on is phenomenal but we just can’t find anything.

“Finding a farmer who has cut back on cattle and has some land and barns available would be the ideal scenario. We can always fundraise to repair buildings if they are dilapidated.”

She added that she “couldn’t even contemplate” what would happen if the charity couldn’t find a new home but that she “would never give up”.

“I have a love for the horses that I will take to my deathbed,” she said.

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Jann has 45 years’ experience working in the horse industry and has been an equine physiotherapist for 20 years. She more recently started opening up the care home for equine therapy after finding it was a “magnet” for people facing difficulties.

“The organisations started contacting me and asking if they could bring people up,” she said. “They help take care of the horses, groom them and pick out their feet. We also find little jobs for them to do around the yard — maybe cutting the grass or trimming bushes or repairing fencing. It’s a good environment for people to be, around the animals in the open air.

“We’ve helped people with drug and alcohol addiction, those who self-harm and schoolchildren, it’s so nice to hear from their parents that they don’t recognise them any more, they have changed so much since they have been coming to us.”

The horses at the care home are all rescues from various backgrounds — from former racehorses to ponies who had been “left tied to the fence at the end of the driveway”.

“We were just about to set up a petting and picnic area and I was thinking about starting lecture demos to help with funding before we had to move and I have had to put all that on hold,” Jann said. “We need to start planning for our future and it will be a huge relief if we can find somewhere.

“Hopefully if people are able to share that we are looking for somewhere, someone will come forwards.

French’s Care Haven has set up a Gofundme page to support the costs of the relocation. Any ne who has a suitable property for rent can contact Jann on on 07747 755556 email jann.turner@hotmail.co.uk

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