Saturday 18 June will see a unique event taking place in Astbury Village, Congleton - the Astbury Animal Assembly 2005. The concept is based on a 'celebration of all God's creatures' bringing together church, animal charities and community.
In 2004, the RSPCA (Macclesfield, South-East Cheshire & Buxton) branch asked the Rector of St Mary's Church, the Rev Dr Jeff Cuttell to conduct an animal blessing service which was followed by an afternoon fund-raising fete. Nearly 100 pets and their owners went to the historic church with its Norman origins (see picture). The fete was popular but with the size of the magnificent Georgian Rectory and its expansive, colourful gardens one local charity could not fill the space. Idea - for 2005 invite all local animal charities!
This year 11 have agreed to attend. Six of those treat, rescue and or re-home dogs. The animal blessing service in the church for pets and their owners starts the day at 11.30am. The fete, in the Rectory Garden will run between 11.30am and 4.30pm and a fun dog show will take place during the afternoon with 14 classes - Best Pup, Best Vocal, Trick Specialist, Celebrity Look-alike, Rescue Dog Parade, etc. The dog show is being jointly run by Collie Rescue (Rough & Smooth) and the RSPCA (Macclesfield, SE Cheshire & Buxton Branch) with prizes and rosettes. Additionally, Total Portraits - contemporary photographic portrait specialists - have donated a portrait photo-shoot of the Best in Show dog to include an A4 framed enlargement - total value £170.
They will also be taking event photography and supplying the animal charities with a record of the day on CD, for individual charity promotion.
The participating charities, aside from the two mentioned above are the Retired Greyhound Trust, Cats Protection Macclesfield, Windyway Trust, Cats Protection Crewe, Lower Moss Wood Educational Nature Reserve & Wildlife Hospital, PDSA, Cats Protection Stoke & Newcastle, Iris's Cats in Need and Sandbach Animal Rescue.
Event organiser, Gillian Kaloyeropoulos (local RSPCA branch) says "We certainly have met the Rector's plea to grow the event. One to eleven charities isn't bad by any count and, but for date clashes, several more had hoped to attend. The interest and co-operation amongst our local and regional animal charities bodes well for the 18th June, the future, and, most importantly, the animals themselves", she said. "I suspect 2006 may be bigger still, but we will see. Let's get to Saturday week and keep our fingers crossed for fine weather." Gillian has been an RSPCA volunteer in Congleton for the past six years.