Love strikes for for­mer MP Ann on sanc­tu­ary visit

Rossendale Free Press - - Obituaries - STU­ART PIKE

AN­I­MAL lover The Rt Hon Ann Wid­de­combe opened the new £18,000 kit­ten room at Bleakholt An­i­mal Sanc­tu­ary – but fell in love with a rab­bit called Bran­don.

The for­mer MP, who has ap­peared on Strictly Come Danc­ing and Celebrity Big Brother, had a tour around the Eden­field sanc­tu­ary on a trip to the north west.

Ann is a pa­tron of the Cats Pro­tec­tion League, has held the role of vice pres­i­dent of the RSPCA and has had a num­ber of res­cue cats her­self.

The kit­ten room has been fully re­fit­ted with new units, a sky­light and bet­ter light­ing to help moth­ers and their young­sters set­tle in.

It was funded by money from the Bolton Guild of Help, which do­nated £3,000, and some pro­ceeds from the sanc­tu­ary book­shop which has been run for three years by vol­un­teer Kath Dowth­waite and has raised a stag­ger­ing £20,000 in that time.

Ann was im­pressed by the sanc­tu­ary, which aims to re­home cats, dogs and small an­i­mals but has don­keys, horses, goats and pigs which live out their lives there.

She said: “It’s a lot big­ger than I ex­pected and it’s won­der­ful. I have al­ways had black cats and I would take some home if I wasn’t away so of­ten.”

How­ever, Ann did take a lik­ing to two-year-old male Dutch cross rab­bit Bran­don, found as a stray six months ago. She said: “Bran­don cap­tured my heart, he just sat there think­ing with his big brown eyes. I am des­per­ate for him to find a home as he looked like he needed one. I hope some­one can help.”

Stu­art Mur­ray, op­er­a­tions man­ager, said: “Ann’s visit was a real boost for the sanc­tu­ary. We are so pleased she took time out of her sched­ule to visit us.

“She was so en­thu­si­as­tic and grate­ful for the care given to all the an­i­mals here. She es­pe­cially wants to be kept in­formed on Bran­don’s bid for re­hom­ing.”

Six­teen kit­ten units are avail­able for spon­sor­ship at £250 each and spon­sors will have their names on the plastic cages. Email re­cep­ uk.

The cat sec­tion, which can hold up to 200 fe­lines, is also on the hunt for fos­ter homes for the kit­tens, es­pe­cially with a busy time ex­pected over the next few months. Email cats@

Any­one in­ter­ested in adopt­ing Bran­don, or any other rab­bits should visit the sanc­tu­ary.

Rt Hon Ann Wid­de­combe with Bran­don the rabbit, held by Pete Hes­keth who works with the small an­i­mals at Bleakholt An­i­mal Sanc­tu­ary, and open­ing the kit­ten unit with an­i­mal carer Hay­ley Collins

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