On November 7, it will be 40 years to the day that Carol Harris took on what is now called Jaybeth Animal Sanctuary near Haverhill.
Back in 1977, Carol took over what had previously been a cattery and kennels and turned it into a safe haven for animals, and her love for a job that has never seen her even claim a wage is undiminished.
The Barnardiston sanctuary has many different tenants, from the more commonplace cats and dogs to geese, ducks, a pony, pigeons, sheep, a tortoise and even 11 terrapins, which have, said Carol, become something of a ‘speciality’ for her.
Running Jaybeth is a true labour or love, but one that Carol has every intention of continuing to do for as long as she can.
She said: “I was 24 when I opened and I’m 64 now and I know I’m not going to be able to physically do this forever. I’ve got enough to keep me going for a little while longer but I just hope the public keep supporting me like they have for such along time now.
“The thing is, I’m a pensioner now and it’s very hard work this, it’s a battle to keep the heating going.
“What I need to do now is make sure all the creatures here have a good life all of the time, if they are here or in a new home.”
The generosity of the local community has been at the heart of Jaybeth’s longevity, said Carol.
Donations come in on an almost daily basis of animal bedding and food, as well as other offers of help, one example of which is the old portable building used to house the cats and tortoise that was once the property of Haverhill Electrical Supplies, before the company gifted it to Jaybeth.
Someone else then came along and provided the money to buy the roofing felt for the building to keep the rain out.
Although volunteers are seen less frequently than once was the case, helpers still turn out.
There are a clutch of regular dog walkers while help is also on hand for the required maintenance and repairs.
Carol said: “I would say all of the volunteers do enjoy working with these animals no matter what the weather.
“They all get pleasure from giving these animals a better quality of life.
“There’s not a day when someone is not popping in with something for an animal and I don’t know any other home which has that kind of individual support.”
As for November 7, Carol said: “Even if nobody else celebrates I shall certainly say thank you to my gods and all the spirits because over the years I’ve had some hard times and some really horrible times, but I have always had something beautiful to look at.
“I’ve been very privileged to do it. I’ve met some wonderful people.”