'It's a miracle': Rescue pigs survive without a scratch as 70ft tree destroys their home

The owners of a Shropshire animal rescue sanctuary have had the best Christmas present they could ask for after their beloved pigs were rescued from the destruction caused by a fallen tree.

Safe and sound: James Gomersall and Tina Harkin, at Brookhouse Animal Sanctuary with pigs Priscilla, left, and Truffles
Safe and sound: James Gomersall and Tina Harkin, at Brookhouse Animal Sanctuary with pigs Priscilla, left, and Truffles

Late on Sunday evening, Tina Harkin and James Gomersall were getting ready for bed when they heard a huge crack from outside their premises in Clun.

The couple thought a car had crashed into one of the buildings, but they never imagined the sound would have come from a 70ft tree falling onto their pig pen where their beloved rescue pigs, Truffles and Priscilla, live.

Tina said there was a few moments of blind panic as they rang the emergency services and waited to hear the fate of their fluffy friends.

"I knew something had fallen on the pigs' building but I couldn't fathom it was that big huge tree," Tina said.

James and Tina at Brookhouse Animal Sanctuary, where a 70ft tree fell onto their pig building

"We panicked for a minute then got into action. All the services arrived promptly and were just tremendous.

"The pigs were brought out by 1am. When we first saw the mess, I was trying to clamber under the debris to get to the pigs, the fire service said it was the largest and most precarious situation in which they have found a tree. They had to bring a crane to get the body of the tree off.

"It was just under 400 years old, that tree. It was an accumulation of a lot of things, the roots were basically dead and it was decaying a bit. The tree was seven feet wide and 70ft tall, so it is sad to think it's gone but the pigs are safe and that's what matters."

Priscilla, left, and Truffles

The rescue has been hailed a miracle by the couple's friends and family as, unbelievably, Truffles and Priscilla emerged without a single scratch, and the couple said they are so thankful to all the emergency services who came to help.

Tina and James said they would like to thank Shropshire Council, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, West Mercia Police, OpenReach, Benbow Brothers Tree Specialists and Western Power for all their help.

"Everyone has been calling it a miracle," said Tina.

"We just really weren't sure if the pigs were alive, it was horrible. They are still very shocked and nervous, but are eating and drinking, and the vet said there wasn't a scratch on either of them. We can't believe it, my husband and I are so happy – our two beautiful girls are safe for Christmas.

"They are both rescue pigs. Truffles has very bad arthritis in her back and legs, but we put her through rehab and she can walk now. Priscilla has been with us for years. Her former owners, a husband and wife, were splitting up, and they just decided to stop feeding her. She was very traumatised.

Safe and sound: James Gomersall and Tina Harkin, at Brookhouse Animal Sanctuary with pigs Priscilla, left, and Truffles

"They are gorgeous, we love them – we have more than 200 animals and we love each and every one of them."

The couple moved themselves, and their 200 rescue animals which consists of sheep, donkeys, llamas, cows, deer and pigs to name a few, to Brookhouse Farm, near Clun, around 18 months ago.

James had a bad accident and lost his leg, so they needed somewhere a little less hilly than the small town of Leek, in the Peak District, where they previously lived.

Tina added: "We have not been able to hold any events or fundraisers this year due to Covid, so hopefully we will be able to soon. Also, due to lockdown, we've taken on more animals, as people have been neglecting them and can't look after them anymore.

James and Tina survey the damage

"Everybody here is wonderful though and has really welcomed us. We are overwhelmed by the response from the emergency services and the council. The animals are safe and that's what matters to us. It wouldn't have been Christmas without them."

Visit middlecottageclun.co.uk/animal-sanctuary to find out more about the sanctuary.

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