Thursday, 25 October 2012

Interview with Gemma Carnell, Fundraising Manager for Redwings Horse Sanctuary

I'm delighted that Gemma Carnell, Fundraising Manager for Redwings, kindly agreed to take some time out of her busy schedule to allow me to interview her.  Since all my royalties from sales of the Matty Horse and Pony Adventures are donated to Redwings, I thought it would be helpful for readers to learn more about the work of this amazing horse sanctuary and why donations are so vitally important.

JaneHow long have you been working as fundraiser for Redwings and what made you decide to work for a horse sanctuary?

Gemma: I have been working at Redwings for eight and a half years, but I first started to support the charity in 1988 when a friend adopted a pony called Pepper for me! I have always wanted to work for a charity and am proud to be a part of such an amazing organization where you can see the achievements all around you (I can hear a happy donkey braying as I type and can see a cheeky pony running round the veterinary recovery paddock!). The fact that we are not only here to rescue and rehabilitate horses and donkeys, but also offer life-long care to those who are too ill or too traumatized to live in a private home, is a remarkable thing. I genuinely do not believe that anyone else offers the level of care and dedication to so many horses.

Jane: Redwings is the largest sanctuary of its kind in the UK.  Can you give us an idea of the scale of funds needed to keep everything going to enable Redwings to rescue and care for horses and ponies that need help?

Gemma: Redwings relies 100% on donations made by the public – we receive no government funding. We need to raise at least £6 million a year just to care for the 1,250 horses that live with us. Nearly 60% of our income is received through legacies – a gift in a Will really makes a powerful difference. The rest of the funds we need are raised through people adopting a horse or making a donation.

Jane: Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like to work for Redwings.  Is there a typical day?

Gemma: No day is ever the same at Redwings and that is what makes working here extra special! We are a friendly, dedicated team working really hard to help horses in need and we are all prepared to muck in to ensure we use our resources in the best way possible to benefit our horses. Fundraising involves lots of time at  the computer, planning and analyzing, but I also spend a lot of time at our three (soon to be four!) Visitor Centres, where people can meet our horses in person for free. Keeping in touch with the supporters and seeing the horses is an important part of my job and one of the most rewarding.

Jane: What is the hardest thing about your job?

Gemma: Seeing a poorly horse arrive in a terrible state is always heartbreaking. Sadly we are seeing more and more of them and it never gets easier.

Jane: What do you like most?

Gemma: Driving up the road in the morning or on the way home at the end of a busy day and seeing fields full of happy horses, knowing that you have helped them be content and safe for another day.

Jane: Do you have any favourite horses, ponies or donkeys?

Gemma: Yes, but don’t tell the others! Tinkerbell the Shetland, Wellington the chocolate coloured cob (who has just been re-homed!), and Denise the donkey – they are all lovely and have very cheeky characters! You can read about Denise on the adoption pages of our website - I am also in love with the whole of the Breakfast Group – 19 young ponies who were rescued from Wales recently. They have the best names (such as Waffle, Weetabix and Bagel) and are all adorable – seeing them grow up and get well again has been such a privilege.


And last but definitely not least, I absolutely love little Doc! Doc was born at Redwings after his Mum was rescued from the notorious Spindle Farm in Amersham in 2008 - he was the cutest, fluffiest foal I have ever seen and grew up to be a cheeky chap, always escaping under the paddock fence to the 'big boys' field' to try and share tea-time feeds. He and his family were named after fairytale characters as a symbol of the fairytale ending they had after their traumatic lives.

Doc at 2 days old with Mum Snow White


  1. When will "Matty and the Racehorse Rescue" be available in print?

  2. Hi and thanks for your enquiry. There are currently no plans for this title to re-appear in print, I'm afraid.

  3. Interesting interview Jane. Thanks for both your great books and for helping support a very worthy charity!

    1. Hi Claire - glad you enjoyed it and thanks for all your support.

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