ONE of Chard’s iconic charities has celebrated its 80th anniversary with the planting of a tree.

Ferne Animal Sanctuary was founded by Nina Douglas Hamilton, the duchess of Hamilton, and cares for unwanted, neglected and abandoned animals.

The Duchess’ great granddaughter-in-law, Kay, dowager duchess of Hamilton, joined celebrations at the charity earlier this month.

Bernie Steadman, chairman of trustees, said: “When the Ferne opened at the outbreak of the Second World War, little did people know it would be thriving 80 years later, or the need for shelter, care and rehoming of unwanted animals would be more pressing than ever.

“Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, and the dedication of the staff, we remain a charity determined to improve the welfare of animals for at least the next eighty years through education and policy change.”

As well as the dowager duchess planting a fruit tree in the charity’s memorial garden, a ceremonial signing of the Armed Forces Covenant took place.

Baz Firth MBE, Base Warrant Officer and Bernie Steadman signed it, with the covenant designed to recognise the value of serving personnel, veterans and their families who contribute to Ferne and to the wider UK.

A number of other events are also being held throughout Ferne’s 80th year. For more, visit