Chailey Heritage School Old Scholars Association
Website design by Ian Sowerby (ian.sowerby@ntlworld.com)
Seven Old Scholars plus their partners and two children spent a wonderful day at The British Wildlife Centre at Newchapel, near Lingfield in Surrey. The site was originally a dairy farm called Gatehouse Farm. It was bought in 1971 by David Mills who brought his award-winning Venn Pedigree Jersey Herd there from Somerset. Due to the demise of the Milk Marketing Board in 1994 and the uncertainty of dairy farming, David decided very reluctantly and sadly to sell his beloved herd, and try to fulfil his second dream of creating a zoo. This one would be different from other zoos. It would have British wildlife of all varieties to help educate the public about native species and the challenges they face, in our very challenging and changing environment. It took him 18 months to get the required planning permission for a change of use. David used this time to make contacts with other zoos as to the best enclosures for the different animals and birds. The animals came from various sources; other zoos, rescue centres, as well as orphans brought in by the public. Today 20 staff are on the payroll. He encourages the keepers to form close bonds with their animals. Various animals are in breeding programmes for release back into controlled wild areas e.g. the Scottish wild cat. Some of the kittens will eventually be released back into their Scottish habitat. We saw the foxes having an afternoon snack, the otters topping up on their "tea". There were several varieties of deer in lovely parkland, stoats and pine martens, red and grey squirrels, rats, mice, rabbits and the most enchanting harvest mice, and a wonderful display by several breeds of owls. We certainly will go back to see the animals we missed this time. The weather was mild and dry so it made for a lovely day out in good company.  Janet Wilkins - Chairman OSA
British Wildlife Centre 2018