FRIEND is a farm animal sanctuary with nearly 200 animals. They find their way here through being unwanted, abused, neglected or abandoned. The sanctuary offers a free roaming (as far as possible and safe) home to chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, cows, goats, sheep and an alpaca on a 10 acre site nestled in between the orchards and hopfarms of rural Kent. The 30+ pigs live in their own paddock with wallows.
FRIEND was established in 1994, when its founder Marion bought a disabled lamb at a livestock market. She then decided all animals that came would have a life of peaceful existence for the rest of their days. Today FRIEND Farm Animal Sanctuary is run with a vegan philosophy of education about animal welfare and the need for a world of compassion to all its inhabitants, fauna and flora alike. As well as educating visitors about the animals, we are working to make the sanctuary an example of ecological sustainability, for example planting native trees and growing food as part of a permaculture design.
Financial donations are spent on food, bedding, essential equipment and veterinary bills. We are a no kill sanctuary, we rehome a small amount of companion animals but most of the animals that live here stay with us until the day they die.
Our mission is to offer sanctuary to unwanted, neglected and abused animals, while educating about animals, veganism and ecological sustainability. We hope to contribute to a world in which humans and animals can live in a mutually sustained environment through practices like vegan organic permaculture farming systems.
FRIEND Farm Animal Sanctuary is run by Mark Eaton with three live in volunteers. We have two charity trustees; Peter Lucus and Lee Cash.
Peter is a retired rail worker who is a keen bird watcher. He has had a life long affection for the animal kingdom with being a vegetarian then vegan for over thirty years. Peter is a very committed supporter of FRIEND who comes to volunteer to help at least two or three times a week.
Lee is also a committed vegan whose skills in the business world has been a great help to FRIEND. He was mostly responsible for helping FRIEND become a registered charity. Lee also comes to help with building projects, like constructing animal shelters.
Mark has a passion for animal welfare and the future of vegan education, with an emphasis on growing food and planting trees, which will have a positive impact on wildlife. He is very excited about the future of the sanctuary and hopes that you will all support his dedication to carry on the legacy of FRIEND, and make his late wife Marion very proud.
In loving memory of Marion
Marion Eaton is the original founder of FRIEND Farm Animal Sanctuary. She was born in New Cross, South London in 1958 and moved to Kent as a very young girl where she spent the remainder of her days. The house she lived in backed onto a beautiful fruit orchard, which in years to come became the sanctuary.
Marion always loved animals, she wanted to stop consuming animal products from a very early age but her parents who’d lived through the scarcity and rations of war, believed this was a dangerous thing to do, so like many young vegan souls she wasn’t allowed. She finally became vegetarian as a young woman in her mid twenties.
Marion loved animals and began by breeding and riding horses, giving her daughter and the local kids of the village a safe place to ride and play. It was when her daughter had grown that Marion became more aware of the ethics of veganism and realised that horse breeding was not something she wanted to continue to support.
According to her husband and FRIEND’s current owner Mark, Marion was a very talented and driven person, she would always take on new tasks, master them then move on to something else, for example she decided to learn martial arts and became a black belt in karate and teacher to the village children even today Mark still get’s approached by adults today telling him how Marion had taught them about discipline and control which they believed kept them in good stead for their lives. Marion also became a prolific artist, a singer, a sailor, a top vegan chef, a high skilled driver, a self-taught animal medic, and the list goes on…
After a while Marion's love of animals became the focal point of her life, and she turned 100% of her determination and inner strength to advocating and fighting for animal rights. She used to visit a ‘livestock’ market in Sevenoaks to check on the welfare of the animals being bought and sold. It was at this time she found a tiny disabled lamb in a pen who was very unwell and after negotiating with the farmer Marion was able to buy the lamb for a pound, she bought him home and named him Tim. Marion was so enamored by this tiny baby she invested all her time and energy into looking after him, Tim was the first little resident rescue, and this was the beginning of FRIEND Farm Animal Sanctuary.
Marion was totally amazed at how clever this little boy was, she would invite the neighbors over to show him off, he would recognise his name, recognize her face, come to her when she mentioned food, and follow her everywhere. Marion really did believe she had the most intelligent sheep in the world until she rescued a second lamb from the same market and was totally amazed to discover that she now had the second most intelligent sheep in the world, and then for Marion the penny dropped. She realised that of course ALL farmed animals are this clever we have just been indoctrinated to think they are not, this was a very powerful realisation for her and motivated her to dedicate the rest of her life to veganism, animal rescue, activism and running an animal sanctuary.
Marion was an animal whisperer. Mark tells the story of when a very young baby bat came to the sanctuary:
‘She was the size of a thumbnail, Marion tried to feed her milk from a syringe but she wouldn’t take it, so after a think Marion asked me to go out side and get a chicken feather which I did. She put a small amount of milk on top of the feather, which ran down to form a tiny globule at the bottom, which the baby could take. To say I was shocked was bit of an understatement but not as much as when Marion then passed me the bat so she could go out to the kitchen, the little bat had a complete sonic hissy fit! She was screaming so loudly I really did not know what to do but the second Marion took the bat back she became calm and quiet again! This really was the essence of Marion, a true Earth mother to the animal kingdom and her capacity to rehabilitate the abused and very young was a joy for me to watch. She always had a menagerie of dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, geese following her around at her feet, baby animals down her top, and I swear I thought if I would upset her a swarm of angry bees would fly from her hair to sting me’
Marion sadly passed away after a long term illness January 11th 2016 but she will never be forgotten for her legacy will be continued by FRIEND Farm Animal Sanctuary, she was buried here and we have a wonderful memorial garden for her which we hope people will visit.