Flying owls mark Val’s award for caring

It really was flying visit when owls arrived at Hanover Walk in Storrington last Friday and got close to residents to mark an award won by Val Harber, who is in charge of the village’sHanover Housing Association premises.

To celebrate an award which recognises Val’s tireless efforts in making a real difference to the wellbeing of older residents living there, Val had arrange for Ben the Eagle Owl and his companion, Lotty, a Barn Owl, to pay a visit and perform an array of aerial acrobatics, which included swooping and flying techniques.

JPCT 10-08-12 S12320297X Lindale Place, Hanover Walk, Storrington Pic of Val Harber, residents getting close to the  owls. Karen Finneral with Lotty the Barn Owl -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 10-08-12 S12320297X Lindale Place, Hanover Walk, Storrington Pic of Val Harber, residents getting close to the owls. Karen Finneral with Lotty the Barn Owl -photo by Steve Cobb

Housing professional Val will attend a special presentation ceremony at the House of Lords next month, where Lord Best. Hanover’s chairman, will officially present her with the special accolade.

In the interim she wanted to celebrate her success with residents, having built strong relationships with them and been instrumental in helping Hanover to become one of the few pet friendly housing providers.

Almost 40 residents watched the display and were able to handle the owls.

Hanover Walk resident 87 year-old Jack Drapper said: “It was a rare opportunity to see these stunning creatures in full flight. Lotty perched on my hand before launching into the air. It was a real thrill. I am really pleased that Val has won this award. Since moving in, she has always gone that extra mile.

“This is a truly wonderful place to live, always something to see or do, animals are frequent visitors and we are very lucky our estate manager never ceases to amaze us with an opportunity to do something a bit different. She has also arranged for me to be a special VIP Veteran guest at the Shoreham air show in September.”

Twelve years ago, Val prompted Hanover to put in place a pet policy. At the time, it did not allow residents to ‘replace’ pets when they died. Val thought this blanket policy was unfair and that it did not recognise the attachment that some residents have to their pets. She worked hard to convince others that a responsible pet ownership approach made sense for residents and for Hanover – which it absolutely does.

Residents are now encouraged to enjoy the benefits that animals can bring. A pet is never turned away, provided responsible pet ownership is observed, with dogs walked away from the estate and cats given outdoor access or litter trays.

The visit by owls, and other similar events, extend the residents’ contact with and enjoyment of animals.

Val said it had been a great success and had been thoroughly enjoyed by all the residents.