A POPULAR animal sanctuary that closed after falling into disrepair has reopened thanks to volunteers who rallied together to get it back in shape.

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.

Families who visit can see and hold animals as well as buy pets that have been saved or disowned.

But after failing to meet animal welfare standards due to an increase in costs, causing it to fall into disrepair, Mrs Warner’s pet shop licence was refused by Cherwell District Council in the New Year and she closed the sanctuary.

ALSO READ: Water Fowl animal sanctuary forced to close

Desperate to get the site open again, Mrs Warner and people in the local community who often visited the sanctuary were on a mission to fix it.

A Go Fund Me page was set up which raised more than £4,000 and the donations were used for renovations including insulating the ceiling of the barn.

Oxford Mail:

Throughout the year, volunteer days were held where people could help with projects such as fixing up the animal pens, repairing doors, painting and ground work maintenance.

Thanks to their efforts and working with the council, Mrs Warner’s pet shop licence and and licence for keeping or training animals for exhibition was granted again and she was able to open the farm back up to the public on September 12.

She said: “It’s wonderful to have the sanctuary open again. I’d like to thank all of those who contributed and give a special thanks to the Partridge family from Kidlington, Steph and Mel.

"They have been working with me every weekend to get the sanctuary back up and running. I wouldn’t have been able to open again without them.

“We have a whole lot of volunteers here making it look spick and span. It’s looking splendid. It’s lovely seeing children here again. We make people happy and smile - that’s always been my aim.”

Residents are glad to see the nature site is open and are looking forward to visiting once more.

ALSO READ: Water Fowl animal sanctuary near Banbury bids to re-open

Oxford Mail:

Ros Innes James said on Facebook: “Wonderful news, congratulations. Our grandchildren missed coming to visit during the summer. We’ll be back as soon as we can to support you.”

Susan Kyte commented: “So pleased to hear this. Good luck for the future.”

The farm currently has measures in place due to the pandemic to ensure it is following government safety guidelines.

Hand sanitiser stations are at the entrances to the buildings and around the sanctuary, social distancing markers are in place and there is a one-way system.

All visitors must wear face-masks (unless exempt) and groups of more then six people are not allowed entry.

Cash is still only accepted and cuddling of the animals will be done with extra precautions in place.

Oxford Mail:

It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 4pm and it is £5 for adults and £4 for children.