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Alpaca farm at Lower Bush Alpacas, Cuxton, changes family's life

A family have left behind their 9-to-5 jobs to become alpaca farmers.

In September 2018, Jemeela Savage's life changed when she and three-year-old son, Harry, went alpaca walking in Hartlip.

Jemeela Savage on the farm
Jemeela Savage on the farm

A year later, she's sitting in her in-laws' garden, holding her second son, Freddie, in one arm and an alpaca on a lead in the other.

She said: "When I met them, I'd never felt like that around animals before, not around sheep or dogs or cats.

"I felt really grounded, really calm and at ease.

"I loved how they were with Harry, sniffing his head.

"I said to Jon 'we have to have one', but they're herd animals so you have to get at least three."

Lower Bush Alpacas are based in Cuxton
Lower Bush Alpacas are based in Cuxton

It was her husband Jon who really decided to take the leap of faith.

While Jemeela was in her third trimester, Jon created a business plan.

Just eight weeks after baby Freddie arrived, five alpacas were delivered too.

Now they have transformed Roger and Hilary Savage's idyllic garden into an alpaca experience with a difference.

Jemeela will be drawing on her experience as a clinical psychologist to help people improve their mental wellbeing, with some help from her alpacas. She offers individual therapeutic encounters and has regular visits from people with Learning Disabilities and Autism.

Lower Bush Alpacas are based in Cuxton
Lower Bush Alpacas are based in Cuxton

She said: "We're going to do mindfulness out in the field.

"Mindfulness is about being present. So often we are ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, that we miss what’s going on in the here and now.

"If we went outside and were distracted, looking on our phones, we would miss the rustling of the leaves, the feeling of the breeze.

"Mindfulness has a really strong evidence base; it’s in the NICE [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] guidelines to prevent re-lapses in depression."

Jon added: "Put that in with alpacas roaming around a field with you, in the countryside, just hearing the rustling of the leaves, it'll be great."

Lower Bush Alpacas are based in Cuxton
Lower Bush Alpacas are based in Cuxton

The pair have big plans for their business, Lower Bush Alpacas, having recently begun offering walking experiences, which have been a great success, they are planning birthday parties, corporate days and much more. As well as the walks, they regularly offer hour-long sessions where you can get up close to the alpacas, feed them their favourite treats and learn a bit about them.

Jon, who is also a singer in local band Kepler-22, said: "We've had a friend who has said they would like to get married with the alpacas.

"We want to have alpaca bags, wool and teddies to sell in the shop and paca poo for the garden.

"We took some poo to Cuxton allotments and people loved it.

"The local community has been amazing in supporting us and it means so much to us."

Lower Bush Alpacas are based in Cuxton
Lower Bush Alpacas are based in Cuxton

The team has joined forces with the NSPCC to do fundraisers and work with local schools, children's groups and old people's homes.

You can find Lower Bush Alpacas in Bush Road, Lower Bush, Cuxton. To book a session or simply contact the family go to www.lowerbushalpacas.co.uk/.

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