"It has always been my dream to work with Animals"
Sue Hawkins - Hectors House Crete
2008 - 2020
My name is Sue Hawkins and my partner’s name is John Wells. We are both from England and both moved to Crete (although separately) in 2005.
Together we began to build Hectors House Crete in July 2010. Previous to this I spent two years looking after strays on some land near one of our local beaches and with the help of Friends of the Animals Elounda and Mirtos Animal Project these dogs were re-homed in Holland.
During this time I had been looking to buy land to build boarding kennels so that money could be raised to help the local charities caring for stray animals. Unfortunately before I was able to do this I was given notice to quit on the land by the beach. One month was all I had to find land for the six dogs I was looking after. We were lucky enough to be able to rent the land that HHC is now on, but, as the land is only being rented and is on the edge of the forest it is difficult to get permissions for building and licenses for a boarding kennels.
So, now we have to raise money in a different way, hence the creation of Hectors House Crete, a non profit organisation helping stray cats and dogs in our area.
It has always been my dream to help and work with animals….not so sure about poor John, though, but he has been very helpful and supportive of me over the last few years….couldn’t have done it without him!!!!
When we started the Hectors House project in July 2010, the first job was to secure the area, so that the dogs were safe. So, we got together a group of friends, loaned some equipment from a builder friend of ours and had a fence building ‘party’!!!
Then afterwards off to our friendly Kafeneon for a well-earned beer.
The next job was the creation of temporary pens for the dogs so that would not have to be on chains and the building of the exercise area/playpen. We had to clear quite a large area of debris before this could be done.
Then came the construction of the Cat Cage. This was a perfect project for John the Cat Man. It took weeks to construct, but with some help from our friends, we got there. A real labour of love!!!
We decided to build the cage around a huge old olive tree so that the cats would have somewhere to climb and play. The main difficulty of building such a structure is making it cat-proof. Cats can get through the smallest gaps if they really want to.
Next on the list was a shed and water. Having spent the last two years looking after dogs on the beach with no shelter to store food and no running water, we needed to build a shed before the winter rains arrived and also needed to connect a water supply. So the shed was bought, constructed and painted with a little help from our friends.
On a personal note, I don’t think I’ve ever painted/treated so much wood, before the construction of HHC.
Water was also connected, which was not easy as the nearest water supply is approx 400 metres away from HHC and the water pipe had to travel through dense forest, underneath a road (via an access tunnel with one end blocked by rubble, typically Greek!) and then more dense, prickly undergrowth… Phew, glad when we got that job done!
Then a very wet winter arrived and it soon became apparent that we had to quickly get on and build the permanent pens for the dogs as some of the temporary pens just became huge mud baths!!!!! As with everything we build at HHC, the structures cannot be permanent, no bricks, mortar or cement. Everything is made from pallets, wood and wire. So , John and I set about constructing each pen.
We did these on our own as they are not difficult to construct and we felt that we had asked a lot from our friends over the last few months and would certainly be needing their help for the next project!!!
Last on the list was something for the ‘Humans’. We decided that we needed another ‘shed’, but larger with windows etc. This was to be a place for us to shelter from the rain, make a coffee, whilst the rains subside… In winter the days are short and sometimes it feels like we no sooner get home from looking after the animals and we have to go back again. So, with a place to shelter in we can stay up there all day, as lets face it there will always be something that needs doing at HHC. Also as we get quite a lot of visitors, especially during the ‘season’ so it can used as a visitor centre where people can sit and have a coffee etc.
So on with the building… John drew up some plans and as we cannot cut down any pine trees we ended up with an L shaped building, built around a huge pine (The only flat area left as HHC is on built on sloping land) Nothing is ever simple and straightforward, but we manage.
Now this place really was a labour of love. The 3 J’s (John, Jimmy and John) as I came to call them in the end, spent weeks constructing the ‘Shed’, I just helped by staining the wood… and staying out of the way!
Down went the base (pallets)…
Up went the walls…. the windows, then the roof!!!
Now onto the inside of the shed. As you can see from some of the photos the 3 J’s did have some help from one of our feline friends, Dennis.
Dennis was always on hand to offer some advice.
And that was it. Hectors House Crete was complete and this is where we remained for the next ten years, adding more pens as more animals needed to be rescued.
Until one day in 2020, the Greek Forestry Department came knocking…
2020 - Present
In November of 2020, after 10 years on rented land, Hectors House Crete had been served an eviction notice by the Crete Forestry Department, without providing a location to relocate our Animal Sanctuary to (as is this agency’s duty). This eviction could have occurred, potentially within days. Leaving the 80+ animals in the care of Hectors House Crete, homeless!
So the shelter desperately needed to raise the funds to purchase new land to construct a new sanctuary and to fight an impending legal dispute.
We were out of time, out of money and it was a complete emergency!
Therefore, this JustGiving Crowdfunding Campaign was created for us:
Hectors House Crete’s Appeal:
Due to Greek bureaucracy, in February of 2020, we were served notice by the Crete Forestry Department to vacate the land that we had been renting for over ten years. As part of this departments legal duty, a suitable plot of land was found to relocate the sanctuary to and so work commenced during Summer on levelling this land, laying foundations and installing fences, spending a total of €3000 (of Sanctuary funds).
Then in September, the Forestry Department (with newly appointed board members) reneged on this land allocation, without providing an explanation or any other alternative. And yet were still expecting us to vacate our current premises.
Basically pocketing the sanctuary’s money, profiting from our foundation work and still wanting to make the shelter’s 60 dogs and 30 cats homeless.
Within days of launching the Hectors House Crete JustGiving campaign and with the help of some well-positioned influencers, the crowdfunding campaign BLEW UP, exceeding over 50% to target!
The success of this project was that it reached over £18,500 and 101% to target.
This was a result of a very engaging & emotive video, a detailed & well-constructed crowdfunding campaign, and a strong & committed social media presence, for the entire lifespan of the project.
Most importantly, this success enabled us to obtain a more permanent plot of land. Also using the funds raised to build an amazing new shelter with modern facilities, and safely relocate all of our rescue animals. This is all thanks to our very generous campaign supporters.
Guess it goes to show;
“Mountains can be moved when you put your mind to it!”
We Need Your Support!
Thank you for your interest in helping the animals of Hectors House Crete. Between feeding, providing shelter, veterinary assistance and upkeep, our monthly expenses run into the thousands of € Euros.
Your donation support is greatly appreciated.