It isn’t often you come across a couple who, when they get married, ask for donations for an animal charity rather than gifts.

That’s exactly what Debs Handy did when she married her long-term partner, Neil on 31 May this year. They had been together long enough to “not want stuff”, so asked for – amongst other things – custard creams, chocolate, marmite and flea collars to support HAYED animal charity in Fethiye.

Debs and Neil at their wedding on 31 May this year

An inspiring meeting

Debs and Neil, who live in Chicester, have been visiting Çalış for two years and, in 2018, met Edna Ballantyne, a key member of HAYED. They immediately hit it off and through Edna and her street dog Paşa, Debs learned what life is like for a street dog in Çalış. Paşa’s gentle nature also cured Debs of her fear of dogs that developed after being bitten as a child in Spain and having to undergo a course of rabies injections.

Debs and Neil relaxing in Çalış

Debs was so inspired by Edna, Paşa and the work being carried out by the HAYED Education Park, she returned to the UK determined to spread the word and help out as much as she could.

Sadly, Paşa has since passed away.

Paşa has sine passed away but his memory will live on

As well as donations for wedding presents, Debs, along with friends, neighbors and a local veterinary centre, collected much-needed items to be brought out on their next visit to Çalış.

Support from British Airways

Debs then contacted Rebecca in the Community Team at, flag carrier airline British Airways, who assist passengers and communities around the world. Rebecca arranged for them to have the maximum luggage allowance for the donations (free extra luggage allowance is generally given for charitable donations with the correct documentation from your chosen charity).

Last Tuesday (18 June), Debs visited the HAYED Education Park to officially present the donations.

Debs pictured with Edna, Pınar and Gökçen at HAYED Education Park on Tuesday.

The smiles of delight from the HAYED team say it all about how thankful and delighted they are to receive the donations.

That’s not all…

The Education Park has generated so much interest that they will be enjoying visits from Debs best friend, Pauline, a veterinary receptionist who will be spending three weeks with HAYED in September and a vet from Epsom who will be sharing knowledge and linking the Education Centre into trials where possible. Even British Aways have expressed an interest in finding out more about the work being done by the Education Park.

Animal welfare education program

This year, the Education Park has delivered the first-ever validated education program on animal welfare and care to 3000 pupils from 14 first schools and 21 middle schools from the area.

10% of pupils attending were selected at random to complete a questionnaire before and after the program to assess the improvement in their knowledge. The results were very positive with an improvement shown in key areas of dealing with street animals and their welfare.

A review of the education program carried out by the Education Directorate was also extremely positive and the plan is to extend and apply the program.

For more information about HAYED, please visit: International Friends of Hayed Facebook page.