STAART Article - April 2023: The Happy Pants Ranch Partnership


STAART partnership with the Happy Pants Ranch animal sanctuary and rescue: A year in review.

In April 2022, STAART held a consultation to adopt The Happy Pants Ranch animal sanctuary and rescue as the STAART nominated charity.

Melanie Thorley and Amey James in front of The Happy Pants Ranch sign

The Happy Pants Ranch is an independent registered charity located in Iwade, near Sittingbourne, in Kent. The ranch is run by the wonderful Amey James and a fantastic team of volunteers. It is home to around 350 rescue animals, including guinea pigs, goats, chickens, cats, cows, pigs, ferrets, dogs, sheep, terrapins, horses, ducks, and a even couple of emus! They have a caravan for cats, and pigs roam in woodland.

The ranch receives no public funding and rely solely on donations. They take in many rescue animals with medical or behavioural issues that have nowhere else to go. The sanctuary provides all their animals with the love, care, and rehabilitation they need.

Unfortunately, The Ranch has had difficulties with their local council as they have been refused planning permission.

To assist The Ranch with their next appeal Dr Melanie Thorley, the STAART Manager, created a petition to demonstrate to the council that The Ranch is well supported by the local community and organisations. The petition is still active and currently has 4,603 signatures. If you would like to sign to support the Ranch, you can find it here.

Participants of the STAART sponsored walk around Medway campusIn July 2022, STAART organised a sponsored walk at the University of Greenwich, Medway campus with two slots for walkers over the morning and afternoon. The route around the campus was 1 kilometre and the target total miles between all walkers was 150 kilometres.

The event was a brilliant success as 41 walkers took part - 33 humans and 8 dogs. Luckily the weather had cooled down enough from the heatwave for the dogs to participate. Two of the walkers managed 10 kilometres each, and two walkers managed a kilometre each. Every single kilometre counted and contributed towards the final total.

Overall, the walkers completed an incredible total of 164 kilometers which exceeded the target by a huge 14K. The total fundraising amount collected and donated to The Ranch was £849.

The day was an incredibly fun, sociable event with lot of the participants walking alongside people they had never met before, and while resting between laps many laughs were shared at the check-in desk. It was very clear many new friendships were formed. Several participants expressed how enjoyable they found the day and were proud to be a part of such a great cause.

Due to the great success of the walk, we are planning to hold the next sponsored walk on Saturday 29th July 2023 around the nature reserve at Bluewater in Kent. Further details will be released nearer to this date. Please add this date to your diaries if you would like to be one of the 60 walkers. Well behaved dogs are also welcome although they will have to be kept on a lead on the nature trail due to the wildfowl.

Simon Earp and Amey James in front of the donated UoG vanIn February 2023, the University of Greenwich generously donated one of their older vehicles to The Ranch which will enable The Ranch to continue with their animal rescues and collecting donations. As The Ranch truck had spectacularly failed its MOT, this van was greatly appreciated.

Amey James picked up the keys from Simon Earp (University of Greenwich transport manager) who was the fundamental in the donation:

Simon Earp kindly provided the following statement:

Melanie Thorley, STAART Manager at the university contacted me asking what happened to our old fleet vehicles. By chance our oldest vehicle a 2004 Ford Connect van had become surplus to requirements at our Avery Hill Campus. It was no great value to us, but the donation was a lifeline to the Happy Pants Ranch. We are delighted it has gone to such a good cause and will hopefully be put to use collecting animals and transporting feed for a good few years yet.

Amey James also provided a statement:

The Ranch is unbelievably grateful for the van donation from the University of Greenwich and to Melanie from STAART for organising it! Having an old and expensive truck currently, this van is a godsend for transporting needy animals and collecting donations. I’m sure it will be filled with everything from carrots and hay to ducks and duvets for many years to come! This van donation will literally help save animals lives and is a huge asset to The Happy Pants Ranch and all its volunteers. Thank you.

Dr Melanie Thorley stated:

I am beyond delighted with this generous donation and the van is big enough for all of the animal rescues and donations. The van is even big enough to transport Douggie the emu if need be. Stavros, one of The Ranch rescue dogs, was the first animal to be transported, thankfully only to the groomers and back.

STAART at the Medway Open Day March 2023 with the Happy Pants RanchBradley the cockerel at the Open Day March 2023On Saturday 4th March 2023, the University had an Open Day at the Medway campus for prospective students. The Happy Pants Ranch were invited to attend to raise money and awareness of their animals.

Amey and members of the Ranch team, David, Kim, and Harry held a fundraising stall and were joined by Bradley the cockerel and Mikey the dog. Everyone had a fabulous day and met quite a few new prospective disabled students.

STAART also held a craft table for our visitors and staff, to create images for our next STAART ART Prize Competition which will be a joint venture between STAART and The Ranch.

The next STAART ART competition will run throughout July and August 2023. It is going to be our biggest competition yet. All of the details about the next STAART ART prize competition will be in the STAART June Article, in the STAART Facebook group and the STAART art group. The competition will be to create a STAART and Happy Pants Calendar 2024.

All profits raised will be donated to The Happy Pants Ranch animal rescue and sanctuary.

Members of STAART and allies at the four volunteering days at the Happy Pants RanchSince the partnership began there have been four volunteering days organised by the STAART team.

The volunteers have helped with any jobs that The Ranch require from cleaning out animal enclosures to rehousing chickens and guinea pigs.

Each volunteering day has been a brilliant success. Working alongside animals is beneficial to physical and mental health. The volunteers have enjoyed spending time with the animals and with other likeminded individuals.

During the past year, there have been donation points on all university campuses and volunteers have taken donations to The Ranch on volunteer days. The donations have included animal food, bedding, batteries and even flooring. All these donations were greatly appreciated by The Ranch, who will never stop needing donations.

Throughout the year, the STAART team have reached out to local media to raise awareness for The Ranch. Kent Online published an article on the partnership in August 2022.

STAART will continue to inform local media of events and accomplishments. STAART members regularly share social media posts with the aim of gaining awareness and additional fundraising for The Ranch. Overall, the partnership over the past year has been a brilliant success.

Amey (CEO of The Ranch) provided a statement on the partnership:

The Happy Pants Ranch has had a wonderful year collaborating with STAART and the support they’ve given the charity has been invaluable! From STAART members volunteering physically at the sanctuary and helping out with the day-to-day care of the rescue animals and the charity having a stall at the STAART open day to an amazing donation of a van and a calendar collaboration for 2024! Melanie and the STAART team and members have been a wonderful network of support to The Ranch and its volunteers, and we so look forward to future events with them. From me, The Ranch Crew and all the animals on the sanctuary, thank you!

Dr Melanie Thorley provided a statement on the partnership:

I was delighted when the STAART members voted to adopt The Happy Pants as the nominated STAART charity. Not only does The Ranch house numerous animals who have been confiscated, surrendered or rescued, the ranch itself is a community wellbeing hub. A number of their  volunteers have experienced anxiety, loneliness, family break-ups  and/or depression, and we all know that working with animals, and being outside in fresh air is good for our mental and physical health. I am looking forward to seeing our  continued partnership continue to grow and flourish.

On a personal note, I have been lucky enough to hold the role of the liaison between STAART and The Happy Pants Ranch for the past year. I joined the University in 2021 as a mature student, who had been unable to work for several years prior to my degree due to ill health. This incredible opportunity has increased my confidence and employability skills, while aligning with my values and passion for helping animals and charities. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be part of a great partnership and look forward to organising future events.

If you have any questions or fundraising ideas, then please contact me (Sophie) with ‘Happy Pants’ as the subject line at

Sophie Price

Happy Pants Liaison Ambassador

BSc Psychology and Counselling

April 2023