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From dog friendly Suffolk with love

We all do different things outside work hours;some more diverse than others!

You’ve just missed a huge life-changing event… Not for you maybe, for the people in Willow, Alaska. It wasn’t widely reported on the news in the US, let alone here… and what does this have to do with anyone in relatively easy-going Suffolk?

The people who designed our website, help us maintain it and keep us on the straight and narrow with our digital marketing are just up the road from us, Rade Digital. Our regular contact, Steve Rooke has raced Siberian huskies as a hobby for the past 25 years so naturally, some of his heart belongs in Alaska (we believe the rest belongs at Ufford Park!)

Huskies pulling a man on a wheeled sledge Through some other UK mushers (the technical term for people who run huskies) Steve was made aware of a huge fire raging uncontrollably through the forests of Willow – north west of Anchorage. This fire (now known as the Willow Sockeye Fire) destroyed 55 homes, damaged 44 other structures and decimated 7556 acres of forest. All this in a community of about 2,000 residents known as ‘Alaska’s unofficial dog mushing capital’. Thousands of dogs had to be moved at lightning speed to escape the blaze as these people lost literally everything that they couldn’t drive away with; their huskies being their number 1 priority.

Steve knows from experience how we pride ourselves on being a dog- friendly hotel. He co-organised the last race of the BSHRA Siberian Husky Racing Championship season in nearby Rendlesham and held the end of season presentation here in the hotel in March and has already booked for next year! Naturally, we were delighted to be asked to assist.In spite of the distance, husky owners in the UK have a lot of links with their counterparts in America and Canada and Steve was invited to join a UK based group of around 100 people looking to raise some much needed money to help with the rebuild of houses and dog kennels, and even some people’s lives! People from all over the UK were putting together a catalogue of items for online auction through Facebook; race memorabilia, signed books, trophies, manufacturing collars and leads for auction, 1 chap even offering to do a day’s DIY to the highest bidder!

We asked Steve to auction off, on our behalf, a 2 night bed and breakfast stay with full use of the health club and facilities, with all the proceeds going to the Willow Fire Support Group.

What started as a small group of concerned people exploded to almost 5,000 members within a week with people joining from literally the 4 corners of the earth.

What started as ‘we’ll try to raise a few hundred pounds’ ended up raising $65,000 (£41,000) – the story making the papers all over Alaska. The bidding was strong and we are delighted that our 2 night break raised a very credible £200 towards this staggering total.

The winning bidders are travelling all the way down from Scotland with their dogs seeing it as a perfect opportunity to catch up with some local ‘doggy’ friends!

So… if anyone asks you if we’re a dog-friendly hotel, now you know the answer!

Image courtesy of Chris Wellstead / Digital Events

Category: Hotel

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