An animal welfare centre on the brink of closure has been sent a belated ‘Christmas miracle’ with over £16,000 raised to help keep the site open.
Lamont Farm Project in Erskine, a volunteer-run animal welfare project centre, has been open to visitors for nearly 50 years after being first founded in 1977 and has no entry fee but donations are welcome.
Since then members of the community have visited the site to interact with rescued and rehomed animals such as horses, pigs, sheep and llamas, relying on donations to keep the site running.
But the farm confirmed on social media on Thursday that due soaring costs, it would likely be forced to close its doors next year with less funding given out in comparison to previous years.
It also fell victim to crude vandalism days before Christmas, a deliberate fire that caused damage to the centre in the summer and a theft this year that left volunteers’ morale at an all-time low.
The financial setbacks prompted those keeping the farm afloat feeling ‘defeated’ with the threat of closure looming as they tried to keep up with bills.
Yet following the announcement on Facebook a fundraiser was set up to save Lamont farm from being shut down, with over £16,000 donated in just one day.
For the centre’s Chairperson Trisha Craig, the response has been nothing short of a miracle, as she told STV News: “The last few weeks we have been hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. You don’t want to ask people for money at this time of the year because sometimes they don’t have it.
“After the vandalism it was like ‘Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?’ because it’s not just the animals that get upset, we get upset as well. These are not just animals, these are our pets. They’re an extension of us.
“It’s been a rough year this year and when we realised just how close to the brink we actually are, it was like we lost our fighting spirit a little bit. Seeing the reaction and the donations has given us the boost we needed. We were all feeling a bit defeated.
“These funds will keep us open and allow us to feed the animals, to keep everything as it is in the farm just now. That will keep us open.
“It’s maybe a bit for late for it, but it’s a wee Christmas miracle. This morning we thought we were a goner in February and now all of sudden there’s money to tide us through.”
Trisha revealed the fire in March left the animals and staff in fear, and that funds were raised to help with the damage but that the loss in footfall was notable.
A cabin at the centre was beyond saving due to the effects of the fire, before a theft in June left the owners feeling out of luck.
She said: “I’ve been at the farm for 24 years and the fire was by far the worst and scariest incident we’ve had because it was near the animals. We fundraised for that but it didn’t hit the mark.
“It always happen whenever we’re closed to the public for a certain amount of time, people think you are closed for good. So you lose visitors.
“It felt like one thing immediately after another then there was the graffiti – some of it was cuss words – so we couldn’t open with kids visiting. We were already looking at our finances by that point with our bills higher.
“The cost of everything is massive and for us. We’ve tried as much as possible to fix things ourselves, doing a Christmas Grotto and an open day but they were both rained off.”
The centre is hoping the summer months will bring more footfall, with applications for grants also available from January.
Trisha reckons they’re feeling more secure and she can’t thank the community enough for the funds raised.
She added: “Hopefully we can get visitors back in the door, we normally see footfall going up in March and April.
“That gives us more than a fighting chance. They’ve secured us for at least this year. It might not be a full year’s worth of money but we will work as hard as we can to keep raising money.
“The farm has the best support network around it, there’s no supporters better than what we have. They step up for us every time and the outpouring has been amazing. There isn’t enough ways to say thanks.”
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