Future secured for Shropshire wolf sanctuary

A Shropshire-based wolf conservation centre is planning to create a sustainable future thanks to help from a group of businesses.

Roger Coy (Roger Coy Partnership), Dr Mark Cowley (ListersGeo) and Tony Haighway (Wolf Watch UK)
Roger Coy (Roger Coy Partnership), Dr Mark Cowley (ListersGeo) and Tony Haighway (Wolf Watch UK)

Wolf Watch UK was set-up by Tony Haighway when he rescued two wolves from a zoo in Southam, Warwickshire, which was closing.

The sanctuary, which is dedicated to the rescue, welfare and conservation of displaced wolves from captivity across Europe, is based in 100 acres of remote woodland in deepest Shropshire with Tony and his partner, Eva Dutton, and their team of dedicated volunteers looking after the animals.

Plans have been drawn-up by the Roger Coy Partnership Architects in Eydon, Northamptonshire, to construct a holiday lodge and educational facility, with Severn Oak Timber Frames in Lightmoor, Telford, manufacturing and building the structure for free and ListersGeo in Slapton, Towcester, Northamptonshire, providing the geotechnical expertise.

In 1999, Tony rescued two cubs, Kgosi and his sister, Madadh, from a zoo in Port Lyme, Kent. Sadly, Kgosi died aged 18 in May, meaning Madadh in her 19th year is now believed to be one of the world’s oldest wolves.

If the plans are approved by Shropshire Council’s south planning committee, the new building will be called Kgosi Lodge in memory of the cub who slept in a sleeping bag alongside his sister and Tony for the first two months of their lives so that he could feed them every two hours.

Tony said the idea of replacing an aging building overlooking a valley and the wolf enclosures with a new dual-purpose lodge and educational facility was to create a more sustainable future for Wolf Watch UK.

“We have never been a commercial enterprise but we do need to think about the future,” he said.

“We already have a small cottage on-site which we hire out for holiday lets and Roger Coy has completed preliminary designs for a building which could be used as a lodge for two people to stay in a beautiful spot with fantastic views across and down the valley.

“It would also be the source of another income since it could function as an educational facility because we already have links with colleges and this would be another way of furthering the cause and welfare of our wolves.

“We would welcome any donations or sponsorship towards funding for this project because it would be an extension of a forest school and a way of connecting with nature.”

Roger Coy, managing director of the Roger Coy Partnership, said this is an exciting project to be involved with.

“It is early days and there is some way to go yet with sourcing funds and other suppliers to finish the proposed building work but we are hoping to submit a formal planning application in the autumn,” he said.

“Wolf Watch UK is a private membership wolf conservation group and the creation of a holiday lodge and educational facility will help to secure its long-term future.”

Will Onions, managing director of Severn Oak Timber Frames which manufactures traditional-style heavy oak framed structures, said the structural design and detail had nearly been completed.

He said: “If the plans are approved by the planning committee, we will manufacture the oak frame using 17th century skills which will take about four weeks. It will have a deck out the front to float over the valley so it should be dynamic.

“We would then supply a skeletal oak frame structure and it would be like a modern-day barn raising party because we would invite people to come along to raise the structure from the ground as part of a big celebration day.

“We will be supplying the pre-fabricated outer frame for free and Tony will use local suppliers or ourselves for the specialist elements to complete the building.”