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The plucky woman who gave up high-flying bank job to rescue chickens as Mama-Hen; Animal worker has no regrets.


BY SHAUNA CORR MEET the Northern Ireland woman who turned her back on a 30-year career in finance to look after chickens.

Barbara Mladek even went so far as to legally change her name to Mama-Hen.

She now spends her days looking after hundreds of farm animals she saved from the chopping block.

The 53-year-old said: "I've always been passionate about animals and whilst I enjoyed my job I didn't like the way banking was going.

"There was so much focus on making sales that I felt customer service was being lost.

"Morally and ethically I just couldn't justify it. I wanted to get back to a less pretentious lifestyle."

So Mama-Hen, who grew up in CS Lewis' Little Lea house in Belfast, retired and set up Northern Ireland Battery Hen Rescue at The Nut House in Moira, Co Down.

She and her volunteers have now saved the lives of over 10,000 battery hens.

Mama-Hen said: "At the time it was a really scary decision.

"I had been used to my good salary and was worried how I would cope.

"Then in August 2013 my mum died very suddenly.

"My life was turned completely upside down.

"I got through it all but it took its toll on me mentally."

She also suffers from fibromyalgia, which causes extreme pain and tiredness.

Mama-Hen said: "The hens saved me.

"Especially the disabled ones that really needed me.

"I've had to learn to build up my mental health again. Looking back I'm still glad that I made the decision.

"I've met some wonderful people through the charity and I've learned so much about the hens."

She added they currently have 300 rescued poultry including ducks, geese, hens, roosters and guinea fowl at The Nut House.

But on top of that they have also made room for five pigs, five rabbits, 17 dogs, 18 degus (small rodents), two chinchillas and a collared dove.

f Mama-Hen said: "We rely on our volunteers more and more and are always looking help.

"We are not a cute dog and cat rescue so we get a lot less donations than other rescues and struggle for funds frequently.

"We survive on donations but I have to subsidise it at times." | Learn more about the Nut House Hen Rescue at

It was a really scary decision but the hens saved me. I learned lots BARBARA MLADEK co down yesterday


beak position Mama-Hen with her rescue birds

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 27, 2018
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