AN elderly woman who had her dreams shattered when her pet shop licence at her ‘beloved’ 30-year-old animal sanctuary was refused is hoping to re-open at Easter.

Mabel Warner, 88, has run Water Fowl Sanctuary and Children’s Farm in Wiggington Heath, near Hook Norton, with her son Rodney for three decades.

But after failing to meet animal welfare standards due to an increase in costs, Mrs Warner had her pet shop licence renewal refused by Cherwell District Council and she was forced to close in December.

Also read: Water Fowl animal sanctuary near Banbury forced to close

However after meeting with officers on Wednesday, she is now working with them to get her site back up to acceptable standards.

She said: "We’re working with the council to try to sort things out and we’ve definitely got to, otherwise we’ll close for good.

"We’ve got to do what they want and grin and bear it.

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"There’s lots of paperwork that they need me to do and I’m dyslexic so I’m having to employ someone else to help me do it."

Mrs Warner said Easter was the most popular time of the year for visitors to the sanctuary, so she did not want to miss out on being open at that time.

She added: “We’re hopefully going to open at Easter and we would love to by then, because that’s the best time of the year for us.

“We always get the most visitors at that time of the year and if we can’t open that’s May day for us.

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“It’s definitely the worst time of the year for this to happen to us.”

After the sanctuary closed on December 31, a crowdfunding page was set up by the public to raise funds for the work needed to renovate the site.

So far, £3,280 has been donated out of the £4,000 goal.

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Mrs Warner said part of the work needed was to insulate the ceiling of the barn on the site which would cost £3,400.

She said: “We can apply for our licence at any time after we make sure everything is up to their standards.

“I’m dying to see visitors again, especially children. It’s really cruel what the council has done to us but I’m thankful for the support and I’m clutching at all straws to get it open for Easter.”

Also read: Recycling crisp packets makes cash for animal sanctuary

Water Fowl Sanctuary is loved by many with families commenting on how sad it would be for it to close.

Amanda Mates said: “I hope it’s only temporary. My family have been coming to your lovely sanctuary for years and you’ve always been so welcoming and great with the kids.”

Cherwell District Council previously said it would help Mrs Warner meet its welfare guidelines.

The sanctuary is holding volunteer days where people can get stuck in and help Mrs Warner with jobs around the sanctuary. The first event is on Saturday, February 29.

Find out more at or call 01608 730252.