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Decision “imminent” on the future of north Norfolk cat sanctuary

PUBLISHED: 11:18 11 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:21 11 April 2018

North Norfolk cat sanctuary trustees Sandra Branch-Burbridge (left) and her son Zachary with supporter Linda Baldwin. The charity, which is fighting to stay at its Sheringwood home, is appealing for donations and volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

North Norfolk cat sanctuary trustees Sandra Branch-Burbridge (left) and her son Zachary with supporter Linda Baldwin. The charity, which is fighting to stay at its Sheringwood home, is appealing for donations and volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

A north Norfolk animal sanctuary faced with the prospect of eviction from its Sheringham home is appealing for donations – and volunteers – to help keep it afloat.

North Norfolk cat sanctuary trustee Sandra Branch-Burbridge with a resident. Photo: KAREN BETHELLNorth Norfolk cat sanctuary trustee Sandra Branch-Burbridge with a resident. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust was founded nearly 25 years ago in the grounds of the home of former opera singer and teacher Gay Rees.

After Mrs Rees died a year ago, the sanctuary’s future was called into question and its remaining trustees and volunteers launched a ‘Save our Sanctuary’ appeal asking for help to buy the land it is situated on.

North Norfolk cat sanctuary trustee Zachary Burbridge with a resident. Photo: KAREN BETHELLNorth Norfolk cat sanctuary trustee Zachary Burbridge with a resident. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Solicitors acting for the charity are working to establish the right of the trust to continue operating from South Hollow, Sheringwood, but the future of the cattery – and its 40 resident cats – still hangs in the balance.

Trustee Sandra Branch-Burbridge, who met Mrs Rees when she adopted a cat more than 20 years ago, said that as well as looking after cats not suitable for rehoming, the trust helped animals some other sanctuaries were reluctant to take on, including three kittens found living wild on a campsite at Trimingham and a 22-strong colony of semi-feral strays recently captured at Brancaster Staithe.

A North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust resident gets cosy at the charity's Sheringhwood headquarters: KAREN BETHELLA North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust resident gets cosy at the charity's Sheringhwood headquarters: KAREN BETHELL

“A lot of places are not able to help feral and semi-feral cats and that is where we can step in,” she said. “We never give up on a cat and we will give them as much time as it takes for them to be tamed and rehomed.”

More than 100 cats have been rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed since Mrs Rees’s death last April, and Mrs Branch-Burbridge and the sanctuary’s 20-strong team of trustees and volunteers are nervously awaiting a decision on whether they can stay in their current home.

“I think a decision is imminent, but we are looking at all our options, from upgrading the cattery if we are allowed to stay, to looking for a new home,” Mrs Branch-Burbridge said.

Her son, Zachary, who is trust secretary, added: “Our vets’ fees average £1,000 a month, our food bills are £500 to £600 a month and the sad part is that we are now having to use some of the trust’s money for solicitors’ fees.”

To donate to the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust Save our Sanctuary appeal, or to find out about becoming a volunteer, phone 01263 822560 or visit the charity’s Facebook page.

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