Northern Ireland news

Former DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly to volunteer at Indonesian animal sanctuary after 'bumpy year'

The wildlife sanctuary in Indonesia that former MP Emma Little Pengelly has said she is going to volunteer at for one month.

FORMER DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly is heading to the 'jungle' to work voluntarily for an animal sanctuary after what she described as "a rather bumpy year".

After losing her South Belfast Westminster seat in December to the SDLP's Claire Hanna, Mrs Little Pengelly announced on Facebook this week that she is leaving Northern Ireland for a month.

Posting a link to a Facebook crowdfunding page she said she would be raising money "to help with some volunteer costs to the organisation".

While not being specific, she posted a picture of from the Great Projects an organisation that offers trips to a number of locations, the most popular an area of restored tropical rainforest near the city of Balikpapan in Indonesian on the east coast of the island of Borneo.

The project works with captive orangutans and sun bears at the Samboja Lestari Rescue Centre. The cost of the trip is registered as starting at £1,295 for two weeks.

The former special advisor had been tipped to replace Carla Lockhart as an MLA in the Upper Bann constituency vacated by her party colleague who was elected to Westminster in December.

However she has since ruled out an immediate return to politics.

A qualified barrister, it has been suggested she could be aiming for a possible return to the legal profession.

But this week she shared news of her intention to volunteer at an animal wildlife sanctuary.


Mrs Little Pengelly, who is due to celebrate her birthday today, posted on Facebook that as she prepares to "turn the big 4-0, and after a rather bumpy year, I have decided to finally take the leap and go volunteering in an animal wildlife sanctuary."

"I am hoping to head off to the jungle in the first part of this year, so I am running this big birthday fundraiser to help with some volunteer costs to the organisation.

"Any contribution, big or small would be much appreciated.

"Those who know me that I have long been a passionate advocate for animals, great and small, so what better way than to volunteer and see this vitally important work in action".

Mrs Little-Pengelly qualified as a barrister from Queen's University in 2003.

She began her political career in 2007 as a special advisor to the late Ian Paisley while he was first minister and remained in the position when Peter Robinson assumed the office in 2008 spending eight years in the job.

She is married to Permanent Secretary to the Department of Health Richard Pengelly.

"Although I am a girl who likes her pressies," she said in her post, "I feel this is a year where I should challenge myself and give back by doing something different and beneficial."

Posting a link to a fundraising page she said: "If you want to support this work through supporting sanctuary and volunteer costs to the organisation then see below - it would be much appreciated".

Last night the page had raised over £125 of the £300 target.

The SDLP's Claire Hanna embraces DUP candidate Emma Little-Pengelly after winning the Belfast South seat at the Titanic exhibition centre.

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