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Yorkshire animal centre to open featuring Real-life characters from best selling children’s books

If you are from Yorkshire, you might have heard of ‘Little Alf’ the miniature Shetland who has a series of books published about him and a large online following. The books started in 2014 when his owner Hannah Russell began writing about his adventures, what started as just one book being published has led to Hannah becoming a full time author and writer.

Little Alf the famous miniature shetland with Hannah Russell
Best Selling Author with Little Alf & Pepper

Born in Yorkshire Hannah is a keen outdoor and animal lover and spent a lot of her childhood years riding her first pony Badger and exploring the Yorkshire dales and surrounding areas with her dogs.

In 2012 Little Alf came along to live with Hannah and gave her a new focus, she was having some time away from college due to an injury in her lower back. She started a blog about Little Alf’s adventures and enjoyed writing about him, this led to Hannah’s first book being published when she was just 17 years old.

Since then she has gone on to launch a number of business initiatives – including interior design, fashion ventures and also travelling the world as a public speaker and charity ambassador. But now her bold new project is ‘Swinton Green’ – an animal themed visitors centre located next to the luxury Swinton hotel near Masham.

Like when Little Alf first came to live with Hannah, the venture was prompted by an episode of ill health, in 2020 Hannah was diagnosed with cancer, after a series of operations and radiotherapy, she got remission late last year. The whole experience prompted her to reevaluate her priorities and push forward towards her dreams.

Hannah Said ‘I always wanted to create a centre where people could come along, meet the animals from the books and book on experience days where they could get a connection from the animal but also take something away from the visit. I’m not creating a petting farm but a place to make memories with animals. I’ll be working with a few different charities but also offering experiences such as alpaca walking’

Swinton Green is set to open early June 2023, you can come along and meet the animals from the books and the rest of the small holding residents, not forgetting Little Alf who stands at just 28 inches high due to him having dwarfism.

The opportunity to meet Little Alf and author Hannah will undoubtedly be a big draw with there 50,000 social media followers, but there are plenty more activities and experiences planned for Swinton Green.

The centre plans to host a number of courses and workshops throughout the year, including animal husbandry sessions aimed for first time small holders, Pet first aid courses and other workshops. Hannah who is a qualified course leader will be able to take you how to care for them step by step.

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