Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Bertie's for the Chop If He Can't Find a Nice New Home; Owners Told Sheep Will Have to Move

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Bertie's for the Chop If He Can't Find a Nice New Home; Owners Told Sheep Will Have to Move

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE MORGAN

THE FUTURE of Bertie, the much-loved Saltburn churchyard sheep, is hanging in the balance.

For nearly four years, Bertie's been tethered in the grounds of Emmanuel Church, munching happily away to keep the grass down.

He's become a local landmark popular with tourists, animal lovers and children.

There were originally two sheep there -the other was Shaun but he died.

Now Paul Tidy and his partner, Andrea Cooke, of Saltburn, who raised Bertie from a lamb, have contacted the Gazette to say they've had notice from Emmanuel Church Council saying that, on health and safety issues, the sheep must be removed from the church yard by February.

Andrea said: "I'm absolutely devastated.

He's my pet, my baby.

"He thinks he's a dog, so he can't go to a farm to live. We'd rather put him down than him go to a farm."

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of York says the sheep is in a "vulnerable position."

They have offered to help Mr Tidy find a safe, new home for him.

But he says he may now have to put the sheep down if an alternative home can't be found "where there's people," similar to that at present.

Mr Tidy said he took on the church grounds voluntarily in his spare time when the late verger was taken ill in 2006.

He said: "The verger said I had carte blanche to sort it out. And I thought a novel idea to keep the grass down was to get some sheep in. Now it's a tragedy. We have raised Bertie from a two-day-old orphan lamb. He's never lived on a farm or in a field and grew up with our cats and dogs in our back yard.

"He's a working family pet. He stayed on a friend's farmfor four weeks in the summer while we were away and pined terribly. It's because of this we're having to have him slaughtered. It's not fair on Steve him psychologically any other way."

Foster carers Mr Tidy and Mrs Cooke said their own children are devastated. "It's going to hit them hard once he's gone," said Mr Tidy.

Bertie has become a well known figure locally and nationally, appearing on YouTube and TV and has featured in many press articles. …

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