Hopes for Llama therapy trial at South Normanton mansion

Rescued llamas at a South Normanton country house could be used to help people with mental health issues if a therapy trial goes ahead.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 7:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 7:02 pm

The animals live at the 15th century Carnfield Hall, owned by mental heath nurse Heidi Price and her vet partner Graham Olive.

Heidi said: “We were asked to take in eight homeless llamas four years ago. It tugged our heartstrings as they had nowhere to go. We didn’t realise there was an undercover male and now we have 15.

"They were quite high maintenance, so we launched a volunteer programme to help care for them. We wanted to get the llamas used to being handled by people so they could be safely given healthcare and medication.

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Carnfield Hall's owner Heidi Price with the llamas.
Carnfield Hall's owner Heidi Price with the llamas.

"We had 17 amazing, dedicated, helpful volunteers. We are so grateful to them, we couldn’t have done it without them.”

Heidi added: “But caring for the llamas during lockdown also helped the volunteers, by giving them a focus, an opportunity to learn and it kept them productive.

So now she is working on designing a new llama project to help people.

"It would be based on a ‘dialectical behavioural therapy’ which could help people with personality and mood disorders, or those who have been through trauma or stress,” Heidi said.

Carnfield Hall volunteers with the llamas.

“Caring for the llamas can help people by giving them goals and targets, it can help ease anxiety, improve people’s sense of self worth whilst teaching them about the animals and the environment.

She added: "It’s still very much in the design stage but we hope to trial it at the end of April.”

Heidi and Graham hit the news recently after rescuing a Highland cattle calf which was rejected by her mum.

Penelope the rescued Highland cattle calf at Carnfield Hall

It was stuck in a ditch, suffering with hyperthermia. Named Penelope the tiny calf was rescued in the bucket of a digger.

Now seven-weeks-old, the little calf spends time indoors with the couple and their children.

Heidi said, “Penelope comes in our kitchen, the library, and sleeps in our downstairs loo.

“It’s a bit like The Tiger That Came to Tea at our house, with two labradors, three official children and unofficial ones, as well as llamas wandering in and now a Highland cattle calf who thinks she’s one of the family.”

Carnfield hall llamas being used to help people through lockdown. Heidi Price with Penelope the rescued Highland cattle calf.

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Carnfield Hall