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Legal threats force cat sanctuary to move its annual open day

PUBLISHED: 10:57 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:39 31 August 2018

A resident of the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust, whose Sheringwood home is under threat of closure. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A resident of the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust, whose Sheringwood home is under threat of closure. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

An animal sanctuary faced with the prospect of eviction from its Sheringham home has been dealt a further blow, after threats of legal action forced volunteers to move its main fundraising event of the year.

A resident of the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust, whose Sheringwood home is under threat of closure. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYA resident of the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust, whose Sheringwood home is under threat of closure. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The future of North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust (NNCLT), at Sheringhwood, off Briton’s Lane, hung in the balance after the death of its founder, Gay Rees, a year ago.

The sanctuary’s remaining trustees launched an appeal for help to buy the land the cattery is situated on – in the grounds of Ms Rees’s former home at South Hollow - with solicitors acting for the sanctuary working to establish their legal rights to continue operating from the site.

North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust founder Gay Rees, who died last year. Photo: COLIN FINCHNorth Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust founder Gay Rees, who died last year. Photo: COLIN FINCH

However, solicitors at Hayes and Storr, Fakenham, who are acting as the executors of Mrs Rees’s will, served the trust with a trespass notice and have now unearthed a 1933 covenant which, they say, means the land cannot be used for anything other than a private dwelling. This means that visitors attending the trust’s annual open day could be charged with trespass.

NNCLT trustee Sandra Branch-Burbridge, who met Mrs Rees when she adopted a cat 20 years ago, said the trust had been advised by their solicitors not to go ahead with the fair, so had reluctantly decided to move it to Cookie’s car boot field, at Beeston Regis.

“We had no choice,” she added. “We were threatened with an injunction if we went ahead and we cannot have our supporters also subjected to these threats.”

Hayes and Storr said in a statement: ”Any action we are taking is in accordance with the wishes of the late Mrs Rees and the terms of her will. We cannot go into specific detail, but we can confirm that our job is to ensure that all our clients’ wills are respected and dealt with in a way that accurately reflects their wishes.”

Mrs Branch-Burbridge, who has written to the land registry for clarification of the covenant and claims Mrs Rees’s will made provision for the trust to stay at South Hollow, said trustees had also been asked to remove comments from supporters criticising Hayes and Storr on the charity’s Facebook page.

The open day will run from 10am-4pm at Cookie’s car boot field, Cromer Road on Saturday. For more information, visit the NNCLT Facebook page or phone 01263 822560.

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