One Remarkable Woman

Dorothea FarndonThe origins of Leicester Animal Aid date back more than sixty years to 1956.  The organisation was founded by one remarkable woman, Dorothea Farndon.  In the 1950s, when it was the norm for most married women to stay at home, Dorothea was out buying stray dogs from the local police station before they were destroyed.

She kept some dogs in her own home in Saffron Lane, South Wigston, persuaded family and friends to take them in or paid for temporary boarding for others until they were found new homes.  Whilst her neighbours were tending to their flower beds and manicured lawns, Dorothea had chalets put in her back garden to house the stray cats until they could be re-homed.  In 1962 it’s recorded that she had 47 feline friends with her!  Gradually the animals took over all the rooms in the large house until Dorothea was living in what was the maid’s parlour next to the kitchen. 

A Dream is Realised

In the early 1960s Dorothea realised a dream and acquired some land at Thurmaston Lane where she was able to put up kennels and establish her own rescue centre.  In 1968 there were sixty dogs in residence and all support was provided by volunteers apart from two-part time kennel maids

Dramatically, just two years later, LAA was given notice to quit the site with just one week’s notice as the land was needed for redevelopment.  Finding accommodation for 100 dogs in just seven days was clearly impossible and the Charity was given permission to keep a small piece of land on the original site, but the hunt for new premises was on.

A New Home

The search eventually came to an end when it was suggested to try the Huncote area.  A pig farmer was due to retire and agreed to sell his 4½ acre site, complete with farmhouse and pig sties.  The next challenge was to get planning permission, raise the money for the purchase - £7,500 plus £2,500 for alterations - and move in!

Unable to launch a fundraising campaign until planning permission had been granted, money had to be borrowed to complete the purchase.  Once permission was given, Dorothea, fronted an appeal to raise money and recruited volunteers to help.

At the end of 1970, Leicester Animal Aid moved into the former farm and in June 1971 held its first open day.  Whilst the dogs had moved out of Dorothea’s home in the 1960s, she still ran the cat rescue operation from her back garden!  It wasn’t until the 1990s that cats first started to be taken in at Huncote.  At the age of 89, Dorothea passed away in 1991 but her legacy lives on. LAA has now been at the Huncote site for over 50 years and takes in more than 400 cats and dogs each year until a furever home can be found.