Sharon and Ozzy the rare breed turkeys could have been forgiven for thinking it was, in the words of Black Sabbath, the End of the Beginning for them with Christmas just around the corner.
But the feathered duo who share their names with the Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy and his TV personality wife Sharon Osbourne, have managed to escape the festive dinner plate thanks to the kind-heartedness of staff and residents at older people’s housing and care charity The Abbeyfield Society’s Armstrong House in Bamburgh, Northumberland.
The fortunate fowls have joined a growing menagerie at the supported housing facility overlooking iconic Bamburgh Castle.
The home managed by The Abbeyfield Bamburgh Society already has two cheeky alpaca brothers called John and David, as well as a flock of hens, who roam the grounds.
Now Sharon and Ozzy are revelling in their newfound freedom and looking forward to enjoying Christmas without the fear of being given the chop.
The black and white Cröllwitzer turkeys owe their lives to House Manager Paula Lingwood. She had ordered a free-range turkey for the house’s Christmas table. But rather than eating it she decided she wanted to spare it and give it a forever home at Armstrong House.
She says: “I saw the turkey pardon carried out by President Trump at Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the turkey we’d ordered for Christmas. Christmas is about forgiveness and compassion, so I decided as it’s the season of goodwill to all things, we should ‘pardon’ our turkey too.
“I knew we could give our turkey a lovely home. And if President Trump can have turkeys at Gobbler’s Rest in Virginia, we can certainly have turkeys here at Armstrong House.
“Of course, you can’t just have one, so we’ve now got the pair of them, who will be gobbling up their festive dinner along with the rest of us safe in the knowledge that unlike others of their breed, they won’t be the main focus of the Christmas Day – or any other days – menu.”
Sharon and Ozzy have been so named because of their flamboyant appearance with their contrasting black and white feathers and fondness for strutting around as if they already rule the roost.
The plucky poultry have quickly won over the hearts of Armstrong House’s residents. Rennie Porteous, 90, a retired dental surgeon, says: “They’re part of the family now. They are quite sociable and inquisitive, and come up to you to be fed. It’s nice to see live animals roaming the garden, and having the alpacas, hens and now the turkeys really helps to lift the spirits.
“We all hope Sharon and Ozzy will be around to enjoy many more Christmases with us.”
Wild turkeys can live for up to five years, but some domesticated ones have been known to survive into their teens, which means Sharon and Ozzy could notch up many more festive seasons between them.
Paula admits the turkeys have been ruffling a few feathers since their arrival at Armstrong House. “They have very quickly settled in and have been wandering around like they own the place, to the disgust of the hens.
“Sharon is definitely the boss, much like it seems to be in the real-life Osbourne partnership!”
The pair can look forward to being thoroughly spoilt over the festivities. “We have a few treats lined up for them,” Paula adds. “They like fruit, nuts, cabbage and lettuce leaves, so they will be getting plenty of those to feast on.”
But what will the staff and residents at Armstrong House be sitting down to on Christmas Day?
“Definitely not turkey!” Paula says. “The only cooking Sharon and Ozzy will be involved in from now on is concocting their next bit of mischief. These turkeys are for life, not just for Christmas.”