Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp

Damage Update: Storm Ciara

It's taken me a while to write this

When something like this happens at the Sanctuary I become overwhelmed with grief, guilt and doubt. While in no way a burden, I do feel the weight and responsibility of so many lives counting on me and the Coppershell team.

That said, transparency is so important and we owe it to our supporters to remain honest about the highs, lows and learning curves of running an animal rescue sanctuary.

Adverse Weather

We have lived onsite at the Sanctuary for over a year now and have experienced adverse weather in the past, but we were naive as to how Storm Ciara could take hold. The field shelters we built in the summer are strong enough against high winds, but our bird sheds are in the process of being replaced. With the barn taking priority, we are sad to say this has been a slow process.

Preparing for the Storm

We had spent the day before the storm making a ‘test’ pig-pen cosier, and spending four hours on the paddocks removing horse manure – a now lengthy task due to the recent intake of six horses.

As the warnings for high winds rolled in and a gentle breeze began, we completed our usual shelter checks. Before bed we moved Lou Lou the Shetland pony into a field shelter, she is not well and we wanted her warm. We did a final check on the horses, knowing that the field shelter would protect them from the wind and rain and they were all wearing the recently donated rugs. We gave extra water and feed in the bird houses to make sure they would have food and drink if it was too windy to go out.

Devastation Begins

The next morning, we woke to some strong gales but nothing that we hadn’t seen before. It was too windy to do any building work outside and at about 2pm the storm really started to take grip of the Sanctuary.

With large windows and a 360 view of the farm, we watched in horror as darkness fell over the Sanctuary.

Suddenly the wind hit with such intensity I was gripped with panic.

We watched as the horse’s field shelter roof was ripped off causing the whole thing to collapse, the horses found shelter in a tiny trailer. The duck house was being moved around like it was in a washing machine and the birds sat lower to the ground than I had seen before. The goats, safely tucked away in the barn, were frozen in place watching the storm take hold.

The lights started flickering and we lost all power.

This video was shot during the ‘calmer’ parts of the storm.

Over in a Heartbeat

The ordeal was over in about seven minutes, but the damage it left behind was huge.

When the winds calmed down, we set out immediately to sweeping the now flooded yard. The goats and pig shelters were unscathed and Billy’s snoring could still be heard over the gusts of wind. The sheep and alpacas were tucked away in the winter stable, but the upper section of the barn wall had blown away leaving the cows exposed to the elements. The horses were content, but the field shelter was destroyed and beyond a quick repair.

We checked over the chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys and turned the duck house back over, fixing a loose panel. 

Heavy rain on the yard

No Electricity

With no power, our lovely volunteers sprang into actions to bring over hot water bottles to keep the new born lambs warm and cosy.

When we had done everything we could in the now increasing winds. We gave out extra hay and the Residents were safe and sound – we felt like we were winning this battle.

With no gas or electricity and content we’d done all we could, we called it a night.

Saying Goodbye

The next morning was a different story.

We knew something was wrong immediately. Dave the call duck was not only out, but he was in a different field. As I called for Matt to bring down pet carriers, I surveyed the area and noticed that Theo and Django were nowhere to be seen and Pea and Rupert were sat in different ends of the field and in the distance we saw the lifeless body of little Herbert.

I frantically checked the shed and to my relief Huey was taking shelter, he was shaking but unharmed. We loaded the remaining birds into the crates to do a visual diagnosis of each. Pea and Rupert were not in good condition so we whisked them off for immediate medical attention. The injuries were too severe and they were in a lot of pain. It broke my heart but the kindest thing to do was to end their pain and send them over the rainbow bridge.

Huey, Dave and Derek have been moved into a secure stable with a heat lamp and with vitamins to help with their stress – they all seem to be doing well.

The Aftermath

We can only presume the hungry foxes managed to get to the ducks due to the structural damage caused by the storm. We empathise with hungry foxes, they are just trying to survive and do what comes natural.

But we have made a vow to keep our residents safe, so as the second storm rolls in we have taken no chances and safely tucked all the birds away. We are researching 6ft weatherproof bird paddocks and electric facing that can withstand harsh storms; expensive but essential.

Pea, Django, Theo, Rupert and Herbert you little guys have left a massive hole and we are sorry we couldn’t protect you.

Ducks Pea and Django stood on grass at the Sanctuary
Rupert, Dave, Huey and Theo
Ducks Pea and Django stood on the grass at Coppershell Farm Sanctuary
Pea and Django

It’s hard to put a number against the devastation and loss that Storm Ciara caused.

If you could consider donating towards vet bills or rebuild costs we would be forever grateful.

Storm Ciara

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.
Billing Details

Reclaim Gift Aid

Gift Aid It!Add 25% more to your donation at no cost to you. A Gift Aid declaration allows to claim tax back on eligible donations. It means that for every £1 you donate to we can claim back 25p, at no extra cost to you.

By ticking the "Yes" box, I agree I would like to reclaim the tax on all qualifying donations I have made, as well as any future donations, until I notify them otherwise. I understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year I may be asked to pay any difference. I understand that will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that I give.

What is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid does not cost you a penny more, but can add an additional 25p to every £1 you donate. When receives a donation from a UK taxpayer, we're entitled to claim an amount of tax (calculated at the basic rate of income tax in that year) paid on that donation. Once you have given your permission for us to do this on your behalf, there is no need for you to do anything else.

All that is required is that you must be a taxpayer and that would have paid or will pay sufficient Income and/or Capital Gains Tax to cover all the Gift Aid claimed on all your donations in that tax year. Please note that it is your responsibility to pay any difference.

The amount of tax we claim will be 25% of the total value of your donations in that tax year. Furthermore, if you are a higher taxpayer, you are also entitled to claim the difference between the basic rate which we will claim and the amount of tax you have actually paid. For further details on how you can do this, please contact your tax office. If your tax situation changes and your gifts will no longer be eligible for the Gift Aid scheme please contact us and we will amend your record accordingly.

Take me to my donation »

Donation Total: £3.00

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Pat Seymour

    Simply heartbreaking-I cannot imagine your pain on finding these dear little souls xx

    1. Genna A'Court

      Thank you so much for your kind words x

  2. Alison Hornby

    So sorry to read about the little lives lost in Storm Ciara, but you and all the lovely volunteers did everything you could. Thank you, with all my heart 💛

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Other Posts


a Sanctuary Resident

From just £3 a month you can help one of our amazing Sanctuary Residents by becoming a sponsor

What do Coppershell Farm Sanctuary do?

Coppershell Farm Sanctuary is a registered charity that rescue, provide care for, and rehome animals in need.

Founded in 2018 we have saved over 400 animals from perilous situations.

Learn more about the chairity

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

More Articles.