Local Hero Juanita Wilson ‘Humbled’ By MBE Award

Last week DGWGO caught up with Mossburn Community Farm’s manager and founder Juanita Wilson who has been awarded an MBE in this year’s honours list for services to vulnerable children, adults and animals in Dumfries and Galloway.

Mossburn Community Farm was originally set up in 1987 to provide help for misused, abused, unwanted and neglected horses and ponies as well as young people with physical and mental problems.This original remit was later widened, and they now care for all domestic animals except cats, dogs and donkeys which have their own specific charities.

When and why was Mossburn started?
During 1987, I was living a mile down the road from Mossburn and working as a freelance riding instructor, which gave me access to a number of people who, because of the economy at that time, could afford to buy their children a pony.

However, these good souls had no idea what they were taking on or how to look after these ponies.

I started a charity called The South Scotland Equine Protection Association (to limit my area) and inevitably one day a pony turned up badly needing my physical help.

Soon after we moved me to Mossburn and within weeks of arriving, people turned up with 2 pigs, 5 piglets, 3 sheep and 3 goats.

They informed me that I was the lady who rescued animals and that was the beginning!

What has it grown into?
I would not have thought in those days that, 28 years on, I would be overseeing a far larger organisation that not only takes in these animals desperate to find sanctuary, but also helps young people who in the main have behavioural problems.

Very early on, one of the child psychology team recognised the benefits that could be gained from children interacting with animals. He does not know how right he was – animals listen and do not repeat, give warmth and companionship without question and have two ears in which to pour one’s woes.

We are very pleased now that we are delivering a full programme of equine assisted psychotherapy (called Learning With Horses by us) which is taking the therapy offered here to a far higher level.”

How do you feel about the award?
“I was humbled, honoured and very pleased indeed to be offered this precious award and think that this type of royal seal of approval can only be good for Mossburn overall.”

What are the farm’s plans for 2017?
We are using a grant of just under £50,000, spread over three years, from ANCBC (Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company) to develop the equine assisted therapy (Learning With Horses) which we run here.

The aim being to make it a sustainable business which will, in turn, subsidise the charity.

Of course, we will go on rescuing all those misused, abused and unwanted animals who come to us.”

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