Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary | Animal Friends

Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary

This Christmas we are celebrating family, and we know every family is unique. A family is what you make it. Like all of us here, you probably consider your pet as a member of your family so we’re taking the time to consider all of the animals across the country that haven’t found their forever homes yet.

We have chosen two very special charities to work with over winter to ensure the animals in their care enjoy a nice Christmas. Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary, Bristol, and Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, Manchester, have both received £25k each from us to help towards the costs of running the centres. Not only that, but we are also helping with the fees for rescuing around 50 animal from each centre so that the animals can find their perfect family for life.

Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary

Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary is one of the largest of its kind in the North West of England and has gradually evolved since the 1950s. They currently care for over 450 animals, from cats to horses. Gemma Atkinson is currently the Sanctuary’s President and has been visiting since she was a young child, now she helps with fundraising and promotes the team’s hard work.

We asked the Sanctuary a few questions about the donation, any future plans, and what family means to rehomed pets.

What does the £25K donation mean to you?

This is a very generous donation and we are extremely grateful for the continuing support provided by Animal Friends.The sanctuary is totally dependent on donations and gifts – it takes nearly £1 million per year to support its running costs.

What will the money go towards?

The donation will cover a third of annual food costs for all the animals.

What future projects do you have lined up?

There are ambitious plans to modernise parts of the sanctuary which are showing their age next year. Particularly to create a new dog centre which will include the replacement of two blocks of kennels which are very dilapidated. The kennels will then cater for 20 dogs and provide more comfortable living conditions for them while they are at the sanctuary.

a cat at bleakholt animal sanctuary waiting to be adopted

What can a family do for a rehomed pet?

All of our animals have a story to tell. They may have been abandoned, neglected or have been separated from their owners through no fault of their own. They just need someone to love them!

What can a rehomed pet do for a family?

All our animals can make great pets, and we try very hard to make sure they are suitable for their new homes. Younger or older, smaller or larger, quieter or louder, there is a pet for every home that will bring added fun and affection into the family.

To find out more about our Christmas campaign visit our Family Is What You Make It hub. You’ll be able to find your nearest rescue centre on our interactive map, get a quote for your beloved pet, and keep an eye out for our exciting gift guide!

The Animal Friends team recently visited Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary with a big surprise in hand. We have previously donated various sums of money to Bleakholt helping to better aid and further the important work that they do.

 Gemma Atkinson was recently made President of the Sanctuary

With actress, DJ, and model Gemma Atkinson recently becoming the charity’s President there was a lot to catch up on! The sanctuary rehomes dogs, cats, and small animals while pigs, goats, horses, donkeys and more live out their lives there.



Elaine and Chris Fairfax, our founders, also flew in from Jersey to meet Bleakholt president, Gemma Atkinson, and have a guided tour around the sanctuary. Elaine won a private appearance from Take That by bidding £1.1 million of her personal fortune in an auction for Children in Need, but as our Charity Ambassador she wanted to help raise further funds for the Durrell Conservation Trust; a charity that Animal Friends has supported in the past. To that end, it was decided to donate the band’s performance to the Rainforest Ball, a fundraising event for the charity in Jersey in September, making the ball one of the hot tickets of the year.

The tickets will help raise vital funds

Two tickets for the ball were presented to Gemma, by Elaine, so that they can be auctioned off for the sanctuary and raise vital funds. Gemma said: “We were delighted to get the Take That tickets, especially as it’s Bleakholt’s 60th anniversary this year.”



We had another surprise for the Bleakholt team, too, and handed over a cheque for £25,000. With over 450 animals currently residing at the sanctuary, and the annual funding requirement now approximately £1,000,000, we hope the donation will be of some help for everyone at Bleakholt.

A special charity

Elaine, who founded Animal Friends with the sole aim of providing pet insurance as a means to help support animal welfare charities, said: “We support a lot of charities and this one is a special one. It’s got a superb atmosphere, you can tell how much the people who work here love their animals and we like supporting good causes.

“We are only too happy to help Bleakholt and hope we can help to make a difference to the lives of the animals here.”



Stuart Murray Head of Bleakholt Sanctuary said: “We rely on donations to run the sanctuary so this is a massive boost for us. Animal Friends have supported us with various projects over the years and they have become good friends of the sanctuary. We will be auctioning off the Take That tickets and will now put the £25,000 towards a project where the animals at Bleakholt will benefit.”

All of this would not have been possible without our amazing policyholders, thank you!



On the tenth day of Christmas Animal Friends donated to Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary!


Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary is one of the largest of its kind in the North West of England. It now boasts a 55-acre site in Edenfield near Ramsbottom, Lancashire and is uniquely positioned to cover a wide geographical area stretching across Lancashire to the Pennines and down in to Greater Manchester. Bleakholt is under constant development so as to be able to provide the very best possible care for the many animals currently residing with them.


The Bleakholt site has steadily been expanding and improving over the years with help of amazing donations. Additions to the site have included a block of heated catteries and heated kennels. Bleakholt have purpose built stables and on 1999 saw the opening of a cat and kitten building. The site even has its own dog hospital, where the are able to provide minor treatments and an appropriate environment.

Last year Animal friends donated a staggering £10,000.00 to Bleakholt where their vice president Gemma Atkinson was on hand to receive the cheque on their behalf.

Our tenth 12 days of Christmas donation is to Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary for:



Like last year, Gemma was happy again to accept the cheque on Bleakholt’s behalf. We had an amazing tour of the new training area that last years donation went towards. This training area is so incredibly important as it is a safe area that the trainers and behaviorists can work with the dogs, before this was built the same training exercises were being carried out in the car park. Both myself and my colleague Ben were given an amazing tour of Bleakholt with Gemma and got to meet all the amazing furry residents from dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, donkeys, horses and even some chickens!


 As always, we can’t thank our policy holders enough for continuing to use Animal Friends, as without you we would not be able to make such amazing donations. For more on Bleakholt, watch the short video below showing our amazing trip with Gemma Attkinson!

If you want to find out more or see what Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary are up to,  give them a follow on Twitter, Facebook or go check out their website.

Merry Christmas to all at the Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary!