Reward for Andy the owl expert
A DETERMINED volunteer who could barely walk when he started helping out at an animal refuge has beaten the odds by not only regaining the use of his legs, but raising a stunning £120,000 in the process.
Sandy Fox (81) has been volunteering at the Exotic Pet Refuge in Deeping St James for 16 years and is regularly seen displaying the centre’s owls during fund-raising events.
Over the years he has raised £120,000 for the cash-strapped charity – and £14,000 of that has been in this year alone
Yesterday volunteers at the refuge held a dinner in Sandy’s honour and presented him a handmade glass owl to thank him for his work.
Sandy says his involvement has helped him as much it has the centre.
Before he started, he had suffered a bad accident that left him wheelchairbound and his wife, Evelyn, was told he would never walk again.
So Sandy, who worked for Perkins Engines in Peterborough for 32 years, volunteered at the centre, first by just cutting fruit and veg for the animals.
He said: “I wanted to help but they also helped me.
“I started off peeling fruit and veg, then, walking with two sticks, I found I was able to feed the animals. Then it became one stick and finally I was able to get about without any.
“I gradually got better and moved more.
“This was after the doctors didn’t seem to able to do anything for me.”
Sandy helps out most days at the centre, where his favourite animals are the cats, particularly the ocelot.
But he is best known as an owl handler and is regularly seen with a large collection of the birds, including Raj the Bengal eagle owl who went missing recently and was later found.
On average he raises about £8,000 a year from donations but this year he wanted to do even better.
He said: “I thought that seeing as there’s a recession, I’m going to try and raise £10,000. That meant going out half-an-hour earlier and staying half-an-hour later.
“I hit my target and thought I would keep going. I’ve raised £14,597 this year. That’s why they won’t let me retire before I’m 100.”
Yesterday, the group honoured Sandy at a surprise ceremony at Fields Cafe, in Market Deeping.
Sandy said: “I was bit shocked but delighted when I received the glass owl.”
Owner of the pet refuge, Pam Mansfield, said: “The money he raises is indispensable for the charity.
“It pays for all the food for the animals. I don’t know what we would do without it. I don’t think people even half his age would do as much as Sandy does.
“He is very modest and wouldn’t have allowed us to honour him if he knew we were going to do it, which is why it had to be a surprise.”
long-serving: Sandy Fox, right, shows off Raj, a Bengal eagle owl
award: Exotic Pet Refuge volunteer Sandy Fox (right), is honoured for raising over £120,000 in 16 years, with founder Pam Mansfield, left, and fellow volunteers