Soroptimists' pledge to improve lives of women and girls continues in County Durham

The Northern Echo
By: Flossie Mainwaring-Taylor
Photo: Courtesy of The Northern Echo  
Photo Caption: Soroptimist International Durham former president Jane Katsambis and current president Judith Stirk.

Original content from The Northern Echo.        

A former headteacher who has been driven to help children throughout her working and retired life is set to hand over the reins from her position at the head of a group which strives to improve the lives of women and girls.

 Soroptimist International Durham (SI Durham) will bid farewell to its president Judith Stirk next month following her two-year leadership - the latter half of which has been conducted in the group’s 70th year in operation.

As part of the worldwide volunteer organisation for business and professional women, current members have dedicated time to making a difference to women and girls locally and across the world.

 The organisation has also been behind the bringing together of Evergreen Primary School, a special school in Bishop Auckland, and Prince Bishops Alpacas.

Headlam alpaca farm owner Carole Burn has gone on to work alongside SI Durham - sending her alpaca-themed children’s books to a school for children with autism in Saudi Arabia.

Read the rest of this story at The Northern Echo.

Meet the Norfolk student who runs an alpaca farm in her spare time

Eastern Daily Press 
By: Chris Hill
Photo: By Sonya Duncan  
Photo Caption: Lucy Ackers with her herd of alpacas at Stubbs Farm.

Original content from Eastern Daily Press.        

A Norfolk student who nurtures a herd of alpacas in her spare time between exams and essays now hopes her work will pay off with prizes at a national show.

Lucy Ackers, 24, started her alpaca business at Stubbs Farm in Loddon with the help of her mother Sue and her partner Josh Stebbings – balancing the needs of the animals with the demands of her agriculture degree course at Easton and Otley College, outside Norwich.

The venture was launched a year ago after an essay on the operation of livestock reproductive units prompted a visit to a nearby alpaca farm, and an instant fascination with these charismatic South American camelids, highly-prized for their luxurious fleece.

Her growing herd is now 24-strong, with five of the younger animals being prepared for their debut performance at the British Alpaca Society’s National Show in Telford on March 24 and 25.

“This is our first time taking animals to the show, so we are throwing ourselves in at the deep end,” said Miss Ackers. “There will be tough competition, but to come away with any placing would be fantastic.”

Read the rest of this story, view the photos and watch the video at Eastern Daily Press.

Herd is the word: Meet the alpacas at Clivewood Farm, Shropshire

Shropshire Star  
By: Heather Large 
Photo: Courtesy of Shropshire Star 
Photo Caption: Walkies – herd manager Becky Usherwood takes some of the alpacas for a walk.

Original content from Shropshire Star.        

With their big, dark eyes, great curiosity and gentle nature – alpacas can melt hearts in an instant.

Often described as nature’s stressbusters, they’re native to South America but are now becoming an increasingly common sight in this country.

Weekend visited Clivewood Farm in Shropshire, which is home to a herd of 32 huacaya alpacas, to find out more about these intriguing and beautiful creatures.

As soon as we walk into their field, fleecy heads turn, ears perk up and dozens of pairs of eyes are fixed upon us. We’ve definitely been spotted.

But they show absolutely no signs of being afraid and almost immediately the group of females start to walk over to where we’re standing.

A few, realising we’re sadly not there to feed them, turn back unimpressed but many stay, curious about who we are and peering at us from under their bushy eyebrows.

Read the rest of this story and view the photos at Shropshire Star.

Find out what Countryfile presenter Matt Baker has been filming in Derbyshire this month

Derby Telegraph
By: Gareth Butterfield 
Photo: Courtesy of Scarsdale Vets
Photo Caption: Matt Baker has been filming Alpacas for Countryfile.

Original content from Derby Telegraph.      

Alpaca farmers from around the area are being featured on the next episode of BBC's Countryfile series this weekend, as they take part in an innovative new venture.

Scarsdale Vets has gathered four alpaca herds, including one from Kirk Langley, for the practice's first ever blood donation event.

The event aims to ensure animals who donate blood can provide plasma for their own herd, offering a real life-line to baby alpacas, known as cria, if needed.

In total, six alpacas took part in the event, run by vet Fay Pooley, who is a farm vet by profession and is currently working towards a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice specialising in camelids.

She said: "Having spoken to a number of our alpaca-owning clients we had the idea of bringing together a small group of animals to help us build up a supply of plasma.

"The reason it is important to have a good supply of plasma is that baby alpacas, also known as cria, are born without antibodies which can leave them open to serious infections in the first few days of life.

“Immunity in a baby alpaca is usually passed on from its mother through the first milk, known as colostrum, but if the newborn doesn’t drink enough in the first 12 hours of life, they won’t receive enough antibodies to ensure a healthy immune system.

Read the rest of this story and view the photos at Derby Telegraph.