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Cat Sanctuary set to open, after ‘hugely stressful’ battle to find a new home

PUBLISHED: 17:21 10 December 2019

North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust chair of trustees Sandra Branch-Burbridge and volunteer Lucy Britton outside the charity's new headquarters at Antingham.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust chair of trustees Sandra Branch-Burbridge and volunteer Lucy Britton outside the charity's new headquarters at Antingham. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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An animal charity is putting the finish touches to a £50,000 new headquarters, after fighting a ‘hugely stressful’ two-year battle to find suitable accommodation.

Six-month-old Syrup, who was taken in by the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust after being found abandoned with his brothers and sisters.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLSix-month-old Syrup, who was taken in by the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust after being found abandoned with his brothers and sisters. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust (NNCLT), which was founded in the 1990s by former opera singer Gay Rees in the grounds of her Sheringham home, has, over the years, taken in hundreds of neglected, abandoned and unwanted cats and kittens.

However, after Ms Rees's death in 2017, the remaining trustees were told to pack up and leave.

The North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust's new purpose-built headquarters at Antingham.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLThe North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust's new purpose-built headquarters at Antingham. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

After a bitter legal battle, which saw the charity served with a trespass notice and threatened with an injunction, NNCLT chair of trustees Sandra Branch-Burbridge decided the charity's only option was to find a new home and put its 40 resident cats into temporary foster care.

"It has been really stressful and traumatic," the former dance teacher said. "We have had people fall out with us and people who thought we shouldn't have carried on, but we have carried on and, overall, everyone has been incredible supportive - the RSPCA even offered to help us move the cats."

The care unit at the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust's new new headquarters at Antingham.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLThe care unit at the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust's new new headquarters at Antingham. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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An intensive fundraising campaign saw trustees and volunteers raise more than £50,000 for new buildings and, after the lease on a patch on land outside Antingham Village Hall, near North Walsham, was secured, local contractors began work on a purpose-built centre.

The new facility, which is due to open in a couple of weeks' time, has three main housing areas, with a donated mobile home serving as an office and sleeping area for volunteers on night duty.

New arrivals will be housed in a care unit and clinic kitted out with nearly £13,000-worth of isolation pens donated by the charity arm of pet store chain Pets at Home.

Once they have been checked by a vet, vaccinated, neutered and treated for fleas and worms, cats can be transferred to one of the main units.

Annual running costs for the centre run into the £1,000s, with vets' bills adding up to around £1,000 a month and the cost of admitting a new animal topping £150.

"There is a real need in the area and, although we have still been taking in emergency cases, I just can't wait to get up and running," Ms Branch-Burbrige said. "I want to see all our resident cats back home and go back to helping all those other cats out there that need us,"

North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust, which has a cat food collection point at Tesco, Sheringham, is hosting a Christmas fair at its new headquarters from 12pm-5pm on December 15. For find out about adopting a cat, or to donate raffle prizes, phone 01263 822560 or visit the NNCLT Facebook page.

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