26 Apr 2012

Newcastle Church High School had some spiky, slippery and feathered visitors this week, as the Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre, near Morpeth, came to the Jesmond based school for an educational visit with a difference.

Bringing with them an assortment of rescue animals, including hedgehogs, owls, snakes and even a tarantula, the Sanctuary gave girls from all year groups at Church High a hands-on experience with the unusual creatures.

As part of the visit to Church High, the girls learned all about the invaluable work that the care centre does, rescuing abandoned and injured animals, to eventually return them to the wild. As support for the day, pupils were asked to bring in dog and cat food, resulting in hundreds of donations.

Jane Wrighton, Year six teacher at Church High, who organised the visit, said: “It was great to welcome the Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre to Church High. The girls were incredibly excited that they had the opportunity to meet animals such as a barn owl and hedgehog and the visit really opened their eyes to the unusual species that can be found on their doorsteps.

“The event itself was funded by money raised through the school’s support of the ‘Rag Bag’ recycling scheme, in which girls and their families are encouraged to bring unwanted clothes, belts, bags, etc., for recycling at Church High. It’s fantastic to see this money being put back into the girls’ education, giving them such a rewarding and unforgettable experience.”
Kim Pettersson, Manager of the Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre, said: “We take a hands-on approach when introducing young people to the animals we care for, and it’s heartening to see children experiencing for the first time contact with unusual animals such as snakes and owls.

“In total, the Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre currently houses around 170 rescued animals, including 30 unwanted pet owls, and we have been running now for 19 years. It’s so important that we teach children about endangered species and caring for pets and wildlife and the response we get from schools, such as Church High, is overwhelmingly positive.”

Each year group at Church High has also been given the chance to adopt an animal at the Sanctuary, receiving a photograph and certificate to display in their classrooms. Nursery and Reception have already decided that they will adopt “Meatball” the hedgehog. Pupils at the school were also lucky enough to receive a pass from the Sanctuary, allowing them one free visit to the centre, to see the rest of the animals housed there.

Eleven-year-old Lexie Urquhart, a Year 6 pupil, from Bedlington, said: “It was just amazing to see Jess, the beautiful barn owl up close. I was even brave enough to hold one of the snakes! I feel like I have learned lots about unusual wildlife and caring for animals from the event and my friends and I are looking forward to adopting an animal and visiting the Sanctuary again.”

Photo: l-r Holly Benn, 10 & Lexie Urquhart, 11 from Church High School with a snake from The Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre