The alpaca farm in a hidden corner of Wirral

Tucked away just off a housing estate, you’ll find a quiet farm “set up to help the community” after a woman’s life was changed forever.

Just off Prenton Dell Road, Nanny Sharon’s Alpaca Farm has a whole range of animals from alpacas, meerkats, giant tortoises, parrots, goats, wallabies, emus, and other tropical birds. The farm is run by a community interest company set up in 2022 for its local area.

It’s overseen by Dave Beecham who started building up the farm five years ago to provide therapy for his wife Sharon who suffered a heart attack that left her with severe brain damage.

When Sharon first came home, she didn’t recognise any of her family and couldn’t walk. Dave said he had been told Sharon, who he has known since he was 17, would never be able to return home and would always be in a vegetative state, but the farm has helped bring her back.

A baby alpaca, just four hours old! Credit: Ed Barnes

Dave’s life hasn’t been easy. Leaving home at 15, Dave was homeless for a period before later becoming a builder. By 25, he was doing maintenance contracts for supermarkets before setting up Beecham Builders, a local company.

Within a week in 2017 Dave lost his dad and very nearly lost Sharon too two days later when her heart stopped. Three years later, he said he was left in a financial mess after a woman was jailed for a year for stealing almost £70,000 from him. The woman had been paid to oversee Dave’s business and property accounts following Sharon’s illness.

He said, “Overnight everything was just taken away from me,” but added, “It’s our life now. Probably helping people, that’s what I probably feel most proud of. That from a bad situation, we’ve turned it into something good.”

Though he said he “was brought up the hard way” and had “seen a lot of things,” Dave, who was born on the Woodchurch, believes their story is about turning “a negative into a positive,” adding the farm’s “probably helped me more than I will ever say.”

A goat at the alpaca farm. Credit: Ed Barnes

He tries to keep a positive mindset, adding, “I treat myself as very lucky. I can cry several times a week but it doesn’t change things. You can talk to psychologists but it doesn’t change it.”

The farm first started when Dave bought Sharon an alpaca and a goat for therapy as stroking the animals helped open up her hands. He then began adapting the paths around the farm and clearing vegetation so he could take her around outdoors.

The farm took shape over the course of around four to five years but only opened to the public in the last year. It now has 17 giant tortoises, 12 parrots, eight emus, 10 rheas, wallabies, seven meerkats, Chinese pheasants, chickens, ducks, and even a black swan.

Dave said, “To be honest it took me a lot to get any help and all of a sudden, everyone was helping. There is a massive community that helped me make it and supported me. It’s like a big family.”

He said, “It’s taught me to form a new life with Sharon and help others. Before this, I wasn’t this person. I am not a saint or anything but there are a lot of good people out here,” adding, “I can’t believe how many nice people are out there but you do not appreciate what volunteers do until you see what they do for you.”

An alpaca at Nanny Sharon’s Alpaca Farm. Credit: Ed Barnes

The farm offers people from all walks of life the chance to visit the animals, with electric off-road wheelchairs provided for people with disabilities. They can enjoy the woodland paths and meet the alpacas who are therapy trained. Schools and organisations like Clare House Children’s Hospice often visit for free.

He said one of the biggest rewards was seeing the faces on the children who visit, adding the farm means he is “allowed to come back to Sharon and I can help people, it gets me out in the fresh air and I would just get bored sitting around. I do know I am helping, it’s not just a job.”

Dave never expected to end up running a farm but said, “I have always wanted to be involved with animals. When I was 15, I applied to work in zoos and my background with dogs. I always did a lot of that, I had birds at a young age.”

The farm is becoming more popular than ever and doing well but funding is an issue. He is struggling to find money for new staff, especially as they have to be trained to look after vulnerable visitors and he currently funds the wages himself.

The farm also currently offers a three-mile walking route but this could expand further with woodland walks at the nearby Prenton Rugby Club. The rugby club is hoping for major investment if a decision to reject plans for 33 homes is overturned and plans to work more in partnership with the alpaca farm going forward.

The alpacas being fed by farm manager Emily Rowlands. Credit: Ed Barnes

Dave said he has now hired a new events manager and plans to fundraise in the future. Manager Emily Rowlands said the farm was growing, adding, “Everything you see is what he wanted to do giving back. You can tell that when you come to visit. The thought and love behind it and the passion. He doesn’t have to do this. I think it’s a really special place.”

She added, “We’re lucky that we’re located on the Wirral but it’s really important to Dave and Sharon that this can be accessed by everyone as people in wheelchairs, struggle with mobility, or have additional needs may not be able to access places like this.”

Information about the alpaca farm can be found on their website  or by contacting info@nannysharonsalpacafarm.co.uk  

Lead image: Dave and Sharon Beecham with their alpacas in Prenton. Credit: Ed Barnes

Why not follow birkenhead.news on Facebook, Twitter, and Threads? You can also send story ideas or letters to the editor to news@birkenhead.news