In Memoriam of Joan Bentley Animal Lover and Pet Samaritan

goats - grazingIt is with great sadness we regret to inform you, Joan Bentley – founder of St Bernard’s Animal Sanctuary and the Pet Samaritans passed away  on 28th November, 2016 at the age of 73.   Joan started St.Bernard’s many years ago and was a dedicated animal lover from an early age. She devoted her life to rescuing animals and wildlife. It was reciprocated – all creatures loved her too. She was particularly fond of cats and was never seen without some feline friend in her arms or by her side.  In later years she formed the Pet Samaritans, an organisation she dedicated to the well being and happiness of all animals through education, campaigning and rehabilitation at the animal sanctuary at Old Whittington in Derbyshire. In 2013, she was recognised for her services to the local community by winning the Peak FM Local Peoples award.

She was gentle, kind and caring and will be sadly missed. A prolific writer, Joan wrote many poems often about animals under her pen name Daphne Shepherd. A collection of her poems will be available soon through the Sanctuary website and Amazon kindle.

A Memorial Service for Joan is to be held on Tuesday, 13 December, 2016.   All are welcome to attend. Please contact the Sanctuary on 07432 071122 for more details or send an email to  Joan requested no flowers for the service but any donations to the animals in lieu of flowers can be made to the Pet Samaritans, Broomhil Mews, Broomhill Rd., Chesterfield, S41 9EA or via our website donation page.

Joan Bentley with her beloved cat Grondahl

We’ll leave you with one of Joan’s poems about her favourite horse, John Peel.

Phantom Hoofprints

I saw a set of hoofprints
As I walked a lonely share
I followed them and thought they seemed familiar,
Paused and saw a moving shadow
Cantering ahead – a fleabitten grey…
John Peel? My childhood friend,
Alive. Not dead.
I smile.
Still temperamental too,
Nipping and shying at the horse alongside
Lochinvar? Is it really you?
Whoa lad. No doubting it,
Sixteen hands, brave, bold, bright bay,
Full fired up and go all day.
Such times we had together,
When I was young and we rode out
Across moors and mountains, sandy lanes,
In sun and rain and storm, all weather.
Life then held neither fears nor doubts,
I wish I could go back, live it again.,
Or mount now, ride through crashing foam,
And wash away my grief and pain,
The endless partings, little gain….
But my horses turn and splash,
And with last roll of eye they leave me,
Canter back to hallowed meadows,
Clean and sweet….
On some Celestial favoured track.