Hopefield Animal Sanctuary was founded in 1983 by Paula Clark and her husband Ernie Clark. It was the coldest winter for twenty years and the story of ponies and cobs being abandoned by their owners on Rainham marshes was hitting the headlines. Doctors receptionist Paula who was already raising money for other sanctuaries was sitting at home in tears over the story of these poor horses. When Ernie returned home from work Paula had shown him what was happening and it was from then on that they vowed to take action and help the animals that needed them.
They went down to the marshes where sixteen horses were already dead and the others were starving. They took tanks of water to them, bales of hay and feed. They even got the vet to examine some of them. Paula and Ernie started to raise money to buy the horses and move them to other sanctuaries and helped them to raise funds.
They then decided to put a call out for some land to start up their own sanctuary. A lady from Pitsea had half an acre to offer so Paula and Ernie started their dream, Hopefield. They started taking horses with the intention to foster. They would bring the horses back to health and then find them nice homes. The first horse they fostered out was Pye, soon after they heard that the fosterers were trying to sell him so Ernie took them to court which cost £4,000. Ernie Finally got Pye back and he was in a terrible state so both Paula and Ernie promised they would never rehome again and the animals had a home for life.
As the sanctuary grew Ernie and Paula both gave up their jobs to look after the animals that so badly needed them. They soon moved to a piece of land in Langdon Hills and were there for three years. Hopefield was still growing so they knew it wouldn’t be too long until they had to move to and even biggest piece of land.
Paula put another call out for land and they came across the land that Hopefield sits on today which is owned by Tesco. Through the years Paula and Ernie have had their ups and downs but have never given up. Their work has been recognised by a number of awards including both receiving a MBE. Their hard work has inspired many people and saved hundreds of animals lives.
Sadly Paula died of cancer 19th September 2009. Ernie kept his promise to Paula to continue their work which he did. Then Ernie sadly died of Cancer 11th September 2011.
They will never be forgotten and their work will continue with a dedicated team and the help of its supporters.