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It has saved the lives of stray animals for more than 60 years - and today The Evening Star launches a determined bid to save the Blue Cross Centre.

SUFFOLK: It has saved the lives of stray animals for more than 60 years - and today The Evening Star launches a determined bid to save the Blue Cross Centre.

Shocked campaigners have vowed to fight controversial proposals to close the adoption centre in High Street, Walton, to provide funds to improve services elsewhere in the country.

And the Star is leading the fight to retain the vital service, which rescues hundreds of helpless cats, dogs and other animals every year.

Nettie Trigg, who runs a small animal rescue centre in Felixstowe, said: “It is appalling - the Blue Cross is always there for people.

“We have got to fight for this.”

Although plans are not definite, employees are in talks with Blue Cross bosses and a consultation period has begun to find an alternative to closing the doors.

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With a staff of ten and a dedicated team of 65 volunteers, the centre is hugely popular in the town.

Last year alone, �11,000 was raised in donations to keep the service afloat.

Mrs Trigg, of Russell Road, Felixstowe, said: “People will be absolutely fuming.

“It is so important to have the centre there. It is a fantastic service. We need the Blue Cross.”

Mrs Trigg has joined other Star readers in showing staunch support for the Blue Cross Centre, which has been in the town since 1947.

Today, we are printing a petition slip which we are urging readers to sign and return to us to show how important the centre is to the Suffolk community.

If the scheme to close goes ahead, the centre could shut in the summer, with any animals which have not been re-homed transferred to other Blue Cross centres.

Andrew Gillon, centre manager, said: “This place has been in the community for a long time so a lot of our supporters are shocked.

“It is a difficult time, a sad time.”

The centre, which costs �245,000-a-year to run, re-housed 400 animals this year.

Meanwhile, during the last 12 months, a dedicated team of volunteers gave up 6,500 hours to walk animals and help out at the centre.

“Staff are upset about the news but are putting all their efforts into looking after the animals at the site,” Mr Gillon said.

“It is a very busy centre and it's still very early in the process.

“We have had phenomenal support from the community.”

Do you back our campaign? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

David Kent, 64, of Roundwood Road in Ipswich, has volunteered at centre, walking dogs for the past 18 months.

“We have got to know all the staff,” he said. “They work very hard and do their best.

“It would be a great loss if the centre has to close.”

Reader Jenny Henderson, said: “I am disgusted by the proposal to close down the Blue Cross.

“I know a large number of people who will fight this proposal and are willing to do what they can to ensure it doesn't go ahead.”

Reader Jennie Squirrell e-mail the Star to express her anger at the proposals:

“On the same day that the newspapers have reported that we are officially out of recession, I find it absolutely heartbreaking that the Blue Cross Centre is to be closed.

“The centre has been at the heart of the local community for over 40 years and throughout this time has seen many people from this region support it in anyway possible whether donating money, supporting fundraising events or volunteering at the centre to aid the support of the staff in the care given to animals that need a loving home.

“As a volunteer I am lucky enough to have witnessed the love, time and energy that the staff at the centre put in to working in this rewarding environment.

“The animals that are re-homed from the centre are the lucky ones, all care and attention is paid to each individual animal to make sure they are placed in a home meets their needs. It just makes me wonder if the centre is closed down, how many animals in our region would have the same opportunities. Could there be a rise in abandoned animals that will not be able to endure the same quality of life that the Blue Cross tries so hard to provide?

“I understand that these past few years have lead to a downward spiral in people not being able to donate as they could before but if we really are out of the dark days that have loomed over us, could the Blue Cross be given a second chance?

“I know that so many people support the Blue Cross. I am also sure that anyone who has re-homed a pet from the centre will tell you just how much joy this has bought into their homes and lives. I just hope they continue to support this much loved charity and come together in the fight to save the centre and that discussion can provide an alternative solution for the future.

“Most importantly I hope that people remember that charity (in anyway possible) begins at home and not just in the here and now but for the long term future too.”