Re­ward for Andy the owl ex­pert

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By BEN TRUSLOVE ben.truslove@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk

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

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