THE mother of a teenage philanthropist has spoken out about how the kindness of a farm near their home has helped boost her daughter’s confidence.

Emily Bentham, 16, won the Young Persons Award at the Pride of Andover 2019 after setting up a wildlife rescue centre in her own back garden.

Now, she has found a home-away-from home at April’s Farm near Andover, where she volunteers almost every day.

Emily’s mum, Ann-Marie, said: “Her whole world revolves around her love for animals, running her own wildlife rescue centre from the shed in our garden, and she is well known in our local community for her passion for all animals no matter how big or small.”

READ MORE: Pride of Andover 2019 finalists revealed

Ann-Marie said that, over the past year, Emily has formed an “incredible bond” with Shiloh, a cow previously owned by a local farmer.

“It’s a year that nearly broke her as she struggled with debilitating anxiety, depression and finally, being diagnosed autistic,” said Ann-Marie.

“When you hear about people having a strong connection with an animal, you generally think of a dog, a cat or maybe a horse, an animal that we have decided is acceptable to take into our families and call a pet. You don't often hear about connections with farm animals.

“Most people have a different perception when it comes to ‘livestock’. That they are a commodity, here to serve us, feed us, clothe us. They aren't seen as the same sentient beings we choose to live with.”

But for Emily, something about spending time with Shiloh has been the support she has needed.

Ann-Marie continued: “For her, this bond has been made with a cow who she has named Shiloh.

“Shiloh has been the calm in the storm, a best friend, someone to talk to, share with, offload to, she has been comfort and companion and has given hope and meaning to what is quite often a very difficult world for Em to fit into.

“There have been so many comments made by people who have seen them together. Shiloh has been described as ‘a giant dog’ as she trots across the field to Em when she sees her coming!

“There have been times when Em has gone to see Shiloh and found an empty field. These have been devastating for her, though thankfully, we have always been able to find where she has been moved to.”

Dreading the day they would find all the fields empty, Ann-Marie and her family had many discussions around the practicalities of buying Shiloh and spoke to the farmer to see if there was any way possible this could happen, but unfortunately it all seemed hopeless.

SEE ALSO: Emily Bentham and Wildlife Aid

She said: “We spoke to Jamie at April's Farm in Enham, an amazing and nurturing care farm and day care centre aiming to provide a farm experience for people with additional needs, to see if there was anyway we could keep Shiloh, and by this time her calf Charlie, there.

“The relief from Emily when he said yes was immeasurable and even more so when the farmer agreed to sell her to us.

“Knowing they were now hers and she could spend as much time with them as she likes has meant everything. They moved to the farm last week and have already been incredibly popular with all the visitors.”

Emily has been volunteering there every day since the cows moved there, helping out with the other animals and the farm's visitors.

“This is an unbelievable step forward!” said Ann-Marie.

“Jamie, the owner, and Ryan and Andrea who work there have been so supportive and encouraging, she's really turned a corner.”

Ann-Marie says that, for Emily, Shiloh has been “much more than just a cow” and hopes that her daughter’s uplifting story will bring hope to others going through tough times.

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story. We really appreciate your support.

Please help us to continue bringing you all the trusted news from your area by sharing this story or by following our Facebook page.