Blue Cross animal rescue centre saved!

Overwhelming public support was one of the key factors in the decision by Blue Cross trustees to keep the Felixstowe animal rescue centre open, it emerged today.

More than 16,000 people signed The Evening Star Save the Blue Cross campaign petition.

Today, chief executive Kim Hamilton, said the charity had been “extremely moved” by the strength of feeling and admitted the amazing response had played a huge part in the closure plans being dropped.

“The Evening Star’s role was critical in galvanising the support of the community,” she said.

“We have heard what the volunteers, the staff and community had to say and we have listened and have found the way to keep the centre.

“We want to thank the people of the Felixstowe and Ipswich areas, and The Evening Star, but now we need your help to move to the next stage.”

Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover said: “This was a fight we had to win for the people of Felixstowe and Suffolk – but, most importantly, for the animals who need us to fight for them.

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“I have been intensely moved by the support our campaign galvanised – and delighted the Blue Cross officials have responded so positively.

“We will be delighted to support the fundraising campaign and will be right behind it. It is fantastic news that the Blue Cross is to stay in Felixstowe and shows the power of a community once it is stirred into cohesive action.”

The charity has found a compromise which – with the help of the community – means it can keep the centre and expand its services into other areas of urgent animal welfare need across the country.

It will remain in Felixstowe if funds can be raised to refurbish the current site in Walton High Street to an acceptable standard. One reason for wanting to close the Felixstowe centre was its current condition.

Around �1million will be needed for a modernisation project and to buy extra land.

Proposals to rebuild it had been drawn up, but after planners refused the initial plans, the scheme was not followed through. Hopes of finding a new site also failed.

A significant shortcoming is the lack of outdoor exercise space for dogs and now the Blue Cross will try to buy extra land for this purpose and start negotiations with the relevant authorities immediately.

“We are hugely grateful for the passion and dedication that our staff and local people have shown towards the animals at the Felixstowe centre,” said Ms Hamilton.

“We will continue to support animals in the area but we cannot do it alone.

“It’s essential that we purchase additional land to stay on the current site and refurbish the centre to acceptable welfare standards.

“Now we need the community’s help to raise the funds to do it.

“The revised proposals are now being discussed with staff and volunteers at the centre, with a view to launching a fundraising campaign in the next few weeks.”