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St Mary Cray volunteers work with elephants at Howletts animal park

PUBLISHED: 09:38 23 June 2016

The SGN team, (L to R at back) Parvis Shad, Andy Wierzbicki, Mick Lewis, Tony Hughes, Julie Lowrey, Jeff Baker and Tom Willard, (front) Esme Sheldrake, Dawn Gillam, Shaun Clark, Kamila Evans, Monica Issac, Kathryn Bye and Barrie Gillam

The SGN team, (L to R at back) Parvis Shad, Andy Wierzbicki, Mick Lewis, Tony Hughes, Julie Lowrey, Jeff Baker and Tom Willard, (front) Esme Sheldrake, Dawn Gillam, Shaun Clark, Kamila Evans, Monica Issac, Kathryn Bye and Barrie Gillam

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The group came from Southern Gas Network's depot

Fourteen volunteers were taken out of their day jobs to help with a jumbo-sized task recently, as they helped at Howletts animal park in Kent.

The park near Canterbury is home to the largest herd of African elephants, and volunteers were quickly put to work by clearing the elephants’ paddock of bark, leaves and dung.

The volunteers, from SGN’s depot in St Mary Cray, carried on by painting the large steel doors to the elephant’s seven-acre enclosure, and then faced the mammoth task of a painting the nine-metre high fences.

The work was part of the gas distribution company’s Community Action Programme.

Dawn Gillam from SGN said: “We’ve been visiting Howletts for years, and have adopted several animals there, so we thought helping out there would be a great way to give something back.

Husband Barrie said: “Although we were all exhausted by the end, everyone said it was one of the best Cap days they’d ever done.

“It was great to be in such close contact with the elephants. I think they were quite curious about what we were doing as they kept poking their trunks through the railings.

“They say elephants have long memories, but this is one day we’ll never forget.”

Neil Spooner, animal director at Howletts said: “We’re incredibly grateful to the group of volunteers from SGN for helping us to maintain our elephant enclosures. The paddocks and yards are vast, so keeping them in tip top condition is a mammoth task.

“Thanks to the hard work of the SGN team, the fences around the yards are now looking great.”

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