Launch of Chippenham’s pet therapy with pygmy goats

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The Greathouse in Chippenham is pioneering new forms of pet therapy, bringing pygmy goats into its centre for disabled people.

The Leonard Cheshire Disability care home officially unveiled its new pygmy goat centre on 11 May, ahead of Mental Health Awareness week, to promote the many health benefits of these tiny, adorable animals.

Rebecca Richards, the activities organiser at Greathouse, said: “We did research and found that in America pygmy goats are used a lot in care homes, because they crave human attention.

“Pygmy goats love to interact with people and will sit on laps to be brushed. It’s amazing how much joy two little pygmy goats bring! They have settled in really well it’s like they have always been here. There has been loads of excitement from everyone here.”

The goats moved in on 1 May to Greathouse, aged just three months and have already been helping residents.

Rebecca said: “One of our residents had been feeling low, but the arrival of the goats has really lifted their spirits and they are now going out to see them every day.”

Rebecca, along with volunteer co-ordinator Crystal Burberry and the rest of the activities team, sourced the goats from Roves petting farm in Swindon, visiting with Greathouse residents when new-born goats were just two weeks old.

Resident Nina Hawkins, who has lived at Greathouse for eight years, went to visit and chose a male goat. She named him after her late father Donald, whose legacy has helped pay for the goat sanctuary. Nina also picked a female goat called Daisy.

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Nina’s mother Doris said: “When Nina’s father passed away, we asked non-family members to give donations rather than flowers to go to Greathouse.

“It was great that Nina went to pick out the goats. I hope they help the other residents living here as well.”

As well as benefitting Greathouse’s 24 residents and six day centre users, aged between 20 and 65 years old, Rebecca Richards is welcoming the community to meet Donald and Daisy, who are already proving popular with children in the area.

The local Freemasons, who have been keen supporters of the project, were also in attendance at the launch party.

The Wiltshire assistant provincial grand master, Steve Bridge officially opened the goat pen, cutting the ribbon.

He said: “This will bring a real benefit to the people here.”

“As part of our tercentenary celebrations in 2017, each freemason lodge is giving 300 hours of time to help the local community. But this is the only one that involves building an animal enclosure. It’s definitely one of our more unusual projects!”

The new goat sanctuary also benefitted from the support of local businesses, including B&Q and Mole Valley Stores, along with local builders and members of the public, including Patricia Ireland who kindly made the goats’ coats.

The team at Greathouse will continue to be busy in the coming weeks, with their annual dog show scheduled for 22 May, for more information on this please email

Leonard Cheshire Disability

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Find out more at

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