I asked him to cancel the event

THE firework display at Weare School organised by the headmaster and others took place on October 11, 2006. The headmaster contacted

THE firework display at Weare School organised by the headmaster and others took place on October 11, 2006. The headmaster contacted me regarding use of my field for car parking and told me that a firework display would take place on a paddock by the school. I was very concerned because of the proximity of our farmbuildings and adjacent ricks of hay and straw which I felt could all be burnt down if firework debris fell upon the same. I also advised our 60 pregnant ewes were in an adjacent field. I asked him to cancel the event but he refused even though I offered him an alternative site on my land. The headmaster informed me in writing that the event would take place at 7.30pm and I took the view that I could shepherd the sheep away from the ditch during any display which would obviate the need to move the sheep two miles to the main farmstead. However the event took place well before the advertised time and I arrived on site after the display had taken place whilst the majority of the parents, children, etc., were leaving. The firework display whilst short could be seen and heard for miles around. I found my flock of sheep in great distress and with a torch walked along the drainage ditch. I found one sheep drowning and I asked for help. No-one would assist and I went back to the ditch and tried without success to save the drowning sheep. I was furious with the organisers/headmaster. When my wife arrived we managed to pull the sheep out and I took it to the school car park where there were perhaps 10-15 parents and children getting into several cars. I then immediately telephoned the chairman of the school governors and advised her what I had done. We had a very civil conversation and she arranged disposal within half an hour. The display was illegal, breaking the firework safety regulations, the Protection of Animals Act, Town Police Clauses Act and Government guidance for safe and successful firework displays. It took place close to the public highway, within proximity to 11,000 volt electricity overhead cables as well as our farmbuildings, hay and straw, and flock of sheep.I was concerned some of the ewes may have aborted and it was not until the main lambing period had ended that it was possible to formulate an accurate claim for compensation which I duly submitted to the County Council's insurance office. We take great care of our sheep and we inspect twice a day. It is very disappointing to find that others have no respect for animals, and people who should know better are prepared to break the law and then try to deny their responsibilities when injury results. JOHN DENBEE - Ashton Mill Farm, Wedmore

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