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Alpacas say ‘hello’ to care village residents

Residents at Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme have enjoyed a springtime start to remember with a special surprise in the form of a pair of alpacas popping in for a meet-and-greet, and a stint working in the reception.

Teddy and Carlos, both aged four, made themselves at home at the Lower Street care village, mingling with their hosts, taking tea in the onsite bistro and learning about the town’s history with a tour of the integrated Belong Heritage Gallery. They then took-up a front-of-house post, offering a warm welcome to visitors.

The furry guests quicky forged friendships with Belong’s customers and colleagues who provided an abundance of love and cuddles whilst taking the opportunity to ask their owners questions and provide their own amusing tales of past antics involving animals.

Resident Margaret Paling, 98, said: “They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” and Janet Boulton, 89, added: “Oh, they’re lovely! They’re so well behaved – can they move in with us?!”

Often confused with llamas, alpacas are members of the Camelidae family and can normally found up to 5,000 meters above sea level in the heights of The Andes mountains. The animal therapy session has been made possible thanks to Knightley Alpaca Trekking, a Staffordshire-based family business offering experiences with the South American mammal.

Emma Palin, experience coordinator at Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme, said: “What a fantastic afternoon we’ve had! To see our customers’ faces light up when the alpacas came in was truly magical.  

“In previous years we’ve hatched our own chicks and ducks and for this Easter, we wanted another experience involving everyone; we even introduced our new friends to those who are confined to their beds. Animals provide an affectionate, sensory experience which offers emotional benefits to our customers, allowing them to feel connected in a way they might not always feel with people. It’s been a great success.

In other celebrations, customers enjoyed an Easter Sunday service, crafts and baking, and the musical delights of local band, Fustian. Later this month, attention turns to the borough’s 850th anniversary, when Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme travels back in time to the Roaring Twenties for Gatsby-inspired parties and glamour, as well as a look back at the town’s life, literature and history over the past 850 years.

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