Help Mark secure the future of Amberwood Animals

Hi there, my name is Mark and I am raising money to safeguard the future of Amberwood Animals a newly established sanctuary for farm animals located in Oxfordshire amidst an area of intensive animal agriculture on land that was previously used to produce cows for the meat industry.

I am in urgent need of a full-time assistant to help with all aspects of care for the now 43 animals homed at the sanctuary including feeding, everyday care, health care, shelter construction, fencing, barn maintenance and any other onsite chores which make up my day-to-day. I have managed to do it all myself over the last two years which was the only way to get things started, however, it is unsustainable for just one person to do all the work required on an ongoing basis.

A full-time assistant will ensure that the quality of care I have established for the animals will be maintained. It will also make it possible for more animals to be rescued and brought to live their lives in peace with us here. There have been some wonderful volunteers helping now and then but it is not possible to rely on volunteer help completely, therefore a paid position is essential.

On top of the funds to enable some paid help I am also asking for support with making the silage and hay this summer - the food that will get us all through the next winter. I am reliant on external contractors with their specialised machinery to make all the fodder and there are storage costs on top of this. Making winter fodder is weather dependent and we will need to be ready to start making everything in June so we need to get the funding in place so we can go ahead when the circumstances are just right.

The vision is to become partly self-sustaining over the next 3 years through the development of enterprises that can support the sanctuary by offering services and goods that do not use or exploit animals in any way. I am also working towards gaining full charity status which will hopefully be achieved by mid-summer. The sanctuary is currently totally dependent on public donations and grants.

The sanctuary currently looks after and offers a permanent safe home for the 10 cows who were left when the beef farm stopped operating, as well as 28 Sheep and 5 pigs - 8 of the sheep and all of the pigs have been rescued by us since starting the sanctuary in 2021. The animals are at the heart of what is being evolved and with your help and support we can double the number of animals offered sanctuary here as well as develop the vision to provide learning and support experiences and initiatives to local communities - a hub of safety, connection, creativity, learning, sustainability and healing.

The story of Amberwood Animals began in early spring 2021 when I reached out to a local farmer friend, Jo, to see how she was doing. Both Jo and I had experienced recent personal loss in our lives - I had lost my acting school business of eighteen years in London due to the Covid pandemic and Jo her Father, just three years after losing her husband. The reach out of a ‘how are you doing?’ text message resulted in what has now become Amberwood Animals farm animal sanctuary homed on some of the land and buildings at Jo’s farm - a working beef farm up until late 2020.

Since then I have managed through an initial crowdfunding campaign and donations from friends to buy all the animals who were already on the farm and cover the basic needs of their care over the last two years. I have also established a good relationship with the landowner, Jo, creating the trust needed to be able to take things forward from this point, to grow the sanctuary and realise its potential.

My personal story
I have been an ethical Vegan since 2016 and I'm proof that people can change their conditioned perspectives. I was brought up amidst the animal farming world from a young age. My grandfather was a butcher and my father was a ‘livestock’ auctioneer who ran several ‘livestock’ markets. I would work in these markets as a boy. I was also a keen hunter and spent most of my early teenage years working on game shoots as a helper to the gamekeeper as well as shooting animals for sport and ‘vermin control’. After leaving school I trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Coldstream Guards where I served three years as a platoon commander in Northern Ireland and Bosnia in the early 90’s. I started my acting school The Actors Temple London in 2003 and spent the next eighteen years running it and teaching acting there until we were forced to close due to the Covid pandemic. I struggled with addiction through my 20's and 30's and have experienced PTSD. Part of my vision for Amberwood Animals is to extend the care offered to animals to include humans with issues around addiction, mental health and special educational needs.

Instagram @amberwoodanimals

This was the first film I made for the initial crowd-funder back in 2021

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Mark Wakeling

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