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Life Without Fear – Jacobs Ridge sanctuary

Vegan Life speaks to Julian Nicholson from Jacobs Ridge about the great work that is being done to improve the lives of over a hundred animals

Jacobs Ridge is a sanctuary based in Mula, near Murcia in Spain. The sanctuary offers a safe and secure home to over 120 animals that have been rescued from exploitative industries such as factory farming or
the streets.

The sanctuary was founded in 2011 as a safe haven for animals and one of the first animals to be taken in by Jacobs Ridge was Jacob, the horse after which the sanctuary is named. When Jacob was found he was malnourished and tethered to a tree. He was soon joined by Nero the donkey and the two have become fast friends. Seven years down the line and Jacobs Ridge is home to a whole range of animals including dogs, goats, horses and pigs.

Tell us a little bit about how Jacobs Ridge was formed?

Jacobs Ridge was formed out of necessity. After rescuing eight malnourished horses from a local breeder, who had sold them to the meat factory, we were running out of money very quickly. Starving horses eat a lot!

Looking down the barrel of personal bankruptcy, I had no choice but to move the horses on. I remember the moment very clearly; I sat with the herd and they stared back. They were all looking to me and in that moment I understood that it was my responsibility.

I understood that nobody would love them or care for them more than me. I was as much a part of the herd as the next horse. I ran up to my office and the plan was hatched.

I am an actor, producer and director. Before JR I spent my days either developing scripts for film, preparing for acting roles or searching for new projects. I also carried out small graphic design jobs to help make ends meet. The sanctuary was always private but the horses changed everything.

Did you ever think that Jacobs Ridge would get so big?

It’s funny really as I don’t think it is that big. I have great plans for Jacobs Ridge and its development. I believe we can do so much more and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately I trust people and I trust myself; if it feels good to me then I think it will feel good to others.

Jacobs Ridge is a family at heart, every volunteer and every animal. I love all the volunteers and the energy they bring and I adore all the animals. To my mind, if you help me help the animals, then we have a great foundation. Jacobs Ridge will continue to soak that up and grow as long as people want to help. I believe people will always want to help and be a part of something to be proud of.

Can you tell us about an animal’s transformation that particularly sticks in your mind?

This is a very difficult question to answer. Over fed and fat rescue pigs that could barely walk, now have the run of the sanctuary and live very healthy and fit lives. Scraggy, scared stray dogs that are now loved, cared for, healthy and happy. Lonely, stray abandoned cats that now know a home and what “dinner time” means.

Donkeys that lived in fear their whole life, frightened of abuse at the hands of man, now know what it feels like to be cuddled, wanted and cared for; they know what it feels like to wander in a safe paddock with friends. Emaciated horses, wandering skeletons fed on lemons and straw, kept in an enclosure not big enough for one, now running and bucking and kicking and fed on the best equine diet around.

How can readers at home help Jacobs Ridge?

The best way to help is to book yourself on a volunteering break at the sanctuary. The volunteering program pays for around 80 percent of the running costs of the Ridge. Another great way to help is through animal sponsorship or monthly donations. We are developing the merchandise range also, so it would be good if you can buy a t-shirt or a mug etc.

What would be truly amazing is if all your readers signed up to play “The Animal Sanctuary Lottery”. It’s a minimum of £1 per week, and has been set up to spread the Jacobs Ridge love even further by supporting other sanctuaries that need it.

If we can get as many people playing as possible, the impact will be huge. Nobody here takes a wage and every available pound gets directed to the animals, this is a serious passion project.

What are your hopes for Jacobs Ridge in the future?

I hope that more people visit and keep returning, I hope that we can continue to offer a loving home to as many animals that need it. I hope that we can grow. I hope that we can open more sanctuaries. I hope that we can influence and educate. I hope that everyday this special family is healthy, happy, fed, safe and cared for.

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