Bird flu scare is causing charity financial woes

Lucky Hens Rescue owner Alison Thorpe
Lucky Hens Rescue owner Alison Thorpe

Fears have been raised for the future of a Wigan organisation which rescues caged hens and finds them new homes.

Lucky Hens Rescue North West is feeling the impact of restrictions on birds to prevent the spread of avian flu.

They have not been able to rehome any hens since December - meaning they have not received any donations from the new owners.

Director Alison Thorpe has made a desperate appeal for help, as she worries the community interest company may have to close.

She said: “It’s serious because we have no income. We could face closure if we don’t keep our head above water. It is serious.”

Lucky Hens buys chickens from farmers so they can be given a new life, rather than sent for slaughter.

We could face closure if we don’t keep our head above water. It is serious

Lucky Hens director Alison Thorpe

Mrs Thorpe rescued her first hen in 2010 and saved her 20,000th hen in November.

But her work has now been put on hold after restrictions were put in place by the Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs last month.

And this week it was revealed a case of bird flu had been confirmed in a flock of 10,000 farmed pheasants in Lancashire.

The hens have to be kept under cover, away from wild birds, so they would not be able to wander freely around the gardens of their new homes.

Mrs Thorpe said: “We would sooner keep hold of them until the restrictions are moved so they can have the lives we want them to have, which is roaming around someone’s garden, not kept in a coop.”

That means there are around 40 hens at the farm in Amberswood waiting to go to their new homes, as well as pigs, sheep, a pony and other animals living there.

But without an income, the cost of feeding and caring for all the animals is mounting.

The rehoming days for January and February have already been postponed as the restrictions have been extended until Tuesday, February 28.

So Mrs Thorpe is urgently appealing for any donations to help cover the costs and continue her work.

She said: “Because we can’t rehome them we can’t get an income from the donations, so we are knocking on doors and asking people to donate anything, whether it’s straw or stack of shavings or feed.

“Even sending a cheque or sponsoring a hen will make a difference.”

She is also looking for potential premises to open a fund-raising shop, as she pledges to do everything she can to keep the centre running.

A Potato Day fund-raiser will be held at St Benedict’s Parochial Club in Hindley from 11.30am to 2.30pm on Sunday, February 12.

There will be seed potatoes, onion sets, plants, a tombola and more.

To support Lucky Hens, email luckyhens@gmail.com, text 07888 730763 or visit luckyhensrescue.org.