Appeal to help Amanda save her sanctuary for rare Viking sheep

Friends are hoping benefactors will flock to help a woman who ditched livestock farming to provide sanctuary for a rare breed of Viking sheep.

Sheep loving Amanda Gray with Gracie, one of her flock. EMN-220701-154919001

Amanda and Barry Gray moved to Burton Pedwardine 16 years ago and reared the biggest flock of Gotland sheep in the UK.

They had up to 200 of the Swedish breed, renowned for their silver fleece, intending to become self-sufficient on their meat and wool, but soon could not face losing them and ended up turning vegetarian.

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They became the non-breeding Pedwardine Sanctuary giving their flock a home for life - some are up to 14 years old. They ended up taking on others from people giving them up, including a couple of Zwartbles and some Gotlands crossed with Shetlands or Teeswater varieties. Their one remaining old ram escaped and produced 14 unplanned lambs meaning they now have around 40 sheep.

Sheep kises for Pedwardnie Sanctuary owner Amanda Gray. EMN-220701-155803001

Amanda, 53, makes blankets and felt goods with the wool and is also a ceramicist and picture framer, but has become full time carer for gifted artist Barry, 74. She said: “My husband and I were very much a team looking after the flock but he now has really bad health with a degenerative lung condition.”

The farm has fallen into disarray, with only his pension and her carer’s allowance to pay for animal feed, vet bills and household expenses. The disintegrating roof of the second hand shelter needs replacing to keep the older sheep snug and the floor needs rubber matting or hard core as the clay ground gets very muddy.

Amanda said the Gotlands are real characters: “I love them so much, I am committed to them. It has just got very hard work. The locals think we are absolutely off our trolleys. The Gotlands wag their tails like dogs and love human contact. They love treats like dried pasta, Weetabix and digestive biscuits which are useful for delivering medication.

“I have a handful of local volunteers that help a few mornings a week, then my friend Jill Treganza, from Norfolk, who I met through a Facebook group called Sheep As Pets, has made donations and set up an appeal page.”

Amanda cuddling up with one of her sheep - all have names. EMN-220701-155753001

The page at www.gofundme.com/f/help-amandas-sheep-sanctuary seeks donations for repairs and maintenance and has raised nearly £500 already. Amanda said: “It is really amazing what has been given by complete strangers. One lady bought almost £100 worth of animal food for me.”