Tilley Farm is a 90 acre property on the outskirts of Bath. We have been the custodians of this incredible land since 2001. It was purchased in memory of our dear friend Cynthia Lund and her little daughter Erin. It is thanks to both Cynthia and Erin that Tilley Farm is the peaceful sanctuary for animals and the tranquil learning environment for people it is today.
Erin was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour when she was eighteen months old. The year that followed shaped our lives. We purchased a period property in Somerset due to some of the extraordinary connections formed as Erin underwent treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital. When Erin went into remission we made the move from London and Cynthia and Erin spent many happy days together in our home.
Sadly Erin died just before her third birthday the following year. Cynthia relocated to France and tried to build a different life without her child. She lived first on a boat, and then rented a property in a small village in Brittany. She bought two horses, Fleur and Equinox and later a further two; they gave her a reason to get up in the morning and helped her find a way forward through the crashing waves of grief. Animals without doubt are the greatest healers and the most generous teachers too.
It was during this time we discovered TTouch. Our Warmblood, Otto, had fallen in a field as a youngster whilst on livery but the extent of his injury only became apparent once he joined us in Bath; we questioned whether we could give him good quality of life. With knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, the low impact movement exercises in hand and variety of gentle body work TTouches made perfect sense. Show the body possibility, avoid reminding it of limitation. We will always be indebted to TTouch for giving us a way forward with Otto and it is thanks to him that the TTouch Practitioner Training Programmes started here in the UK.
Cynthia had purchased Fleur to rescue her from a limited life in a riding school where Cynthia was reconnecting with horses. She’d ridden as a child but it had been some years since she had been around horses. Fleur could only be ridden in an indoor arena due to her behaviour. As always there were valid reasons for the dangerous behaviour she exhibited when hacked outside. When Cynthia told us of Fleur’s struggles, we encouraged her to come to England to learn some of the TTouch techniques that had been so beneficial for Otto.
At the end of her first TTouch clinic Cynthia spent the night at our home before travelling back to France the following morning. During that evening Cynthia told us she felt she had a new future to look forward to with TTouch and her horses, and that finally she believed she had survived her daughter’s death. That was the last time we saw our friend.
A few weeks later Cynthia fell from the back of a horse belonging to an older gentleman who ran the local shop in the village where she lived. She sustained a catastrophic injury and passed a few days later. It was then we learned we had been left everything in her Will. Two of her horses were rehomed in France, and Fleur and Equinox came to live with us.
The right people and animals have always entered our life at the right time. We did not possess the necessary language skills to be able to communicate appropriately with the devastated Breton gentleman but a French student, Sara, was staying with us when the terrible accident occured. She helped us write a letter containing not just Erin's story but a dream that Cynthia had a few months before the accident occured; the dream lifted her spirits and had now come true. We hope he was able to find peace from all we shared.
It was important we created something positive from all the loss. The money we inherited enabled us to purchase Tilley Farm. Shelley, who has been an invaluable part of our team for twenty five years, found the farm and Fleur connected us with Mags who became another invaluable member of our team. Our great friend Jon lives on the property. He knew Cynthia and Erin and has helped us create and maintain this incredible space. We don’t believe we ‘own’ this land, more that we are guardians for now, and if indeed it did belong to anyone it would belong to us all.
There are far too many threads in this rich tapestry to share here, one day we will write the book, but as sad as Cynthia and Erin’s story may be, it has evolved to become one of joy and hope. It has changed us, shaped us, and many others too. Countless lives have been enhanced, and saved, thanks to this peaceful place; so many modifcations to the way we connect with animals started here.
We could not do all that we do without our family, friends and outstanding team, both two legged and four, and we will ensure this story never has an end. Some say it takes a village. We know it takes a farm.
Sarah Fisher and Anthony Head