Generous Northumberland gardener helps Hilltop Farm restore its barn roof after coming clean off in storm

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A farm near Morpeth has received help from the community to help give its alpacas a functioning barn once again.

After the strong winds of storm Pia on Christmas Eve in 2023, Hilltop Farm – located at Gorfenletch, just off the A697 between Heighley Gate and Longhorsley – had its 12 by 20 foot barn blown clean off its fixtures and onto the A697. The barn, which is used to shelter the farm’s rescued alpacas and store food, was deemed unusable.

Luckily, no alpacas were hurt by the runaway barn and a temporary shelter was put in place to help the rescues battle the winter. It did, however, cause the road to close while it was towed away.

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Adam Crate, operations director at Hilltop Farm, said: “It didn't even budge in Storm Arwen. We cannot believe it lifted up. Literally 30 seconds before it lifted, myself and some other volunteers that were up there were actually inside that barn.

Jim Wright fixing the barn.Jim Wright fixing the barn.
Jim Wright fixing the barn.

“We must have just walked up and not heard it for the wind because by the time I got the top gates there was a member of public that came racing up saying ‘do you know your barn’s on the A697?’.”

Hilltop Farm is a non-profit organisation which takes in unwanted, abandoned or mistreated animals and birds to give them a better life. At the time, the charity was already fundraising with a GoFundMe page, so when the news got out about the roof, they appealed for help to cover the costs and people were keen to send in their financial support. They raised over £3,000.

Continued generosity came from local gardener, Jim Wright, from Wrights Gardening Services in Alnwick, who volunteered to fix the roof with his wife and daughter out of their own time, free of charge.

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Together, the family helped pick up debris and salvage as much of the leftover roofing material as possible before it was rebuilt, squared off and straightened up.

The barn had to be towed upside down off the A697.The barn had to be towed upside down off the A697.
The barn had to be towed upside down off the A697.

On a Facebook post, Hilltop Farm wrote: "If it wasn’t for Jim helping and everyone who helped on our GoFundMe, we wouldn’t have been able to complete this.

“A massive thank you to Jim for his time and expertise today and everyone who donated on our GoFundMe.”

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