By Gary Smee 30/08 Updated: 31/08 10:16
A NATIONAL treasure and one of television's best known faces has stepped in to help a Vale animal charity threatened with closure.
Joanna Lumley will cut the ribbon and launch a major fund-raising appeal at The Farm Animal Sanctuary in Middle Littleton at its annual open day on Sunday (September 2).
Mrs Lumley, who has been involved with the sanctuary for more than two decades and is now a patron, is set to start the Mile of Gold appeal - a bid by the farm to raise £70,000.
The huge amount needs to be raised after the charity was issued with a court eviction notice by the farm's owner last year. The trial was called off a few days before it was due to be heard but staff at the Farm Animal Sanctuary were told their only option to keep it open was to buy the farm which has been home to thousands of different animals for the past 15 years.
Mrs Lumley will be presented with two four figure cheques from two of the sanctuary's supporters to start the appeal on Sunday.
Janet Taylor, who founded the charity, said they had already made a good start to their fund-raising.
"We have been offered a a substantial loan from a local trust, also generous donations from an American organisation and a businessman in Switzerland who has been a long term supporter of the sanctuary," she added.
"We now need to raise the balance of £70,000 to enable us to buy the farm and keep our 600 animals safe.
"It has been a really tough last few months for us with our future so uncertain.
"Joanna has been a generous and constant friend to the sanctuary for 22 years. We couldn’t have a better person to help us launch this appeal."
The open day runs from 1pm until 5pm. Admission is £1 for adults, 50p for children aged ten to 16 and free for under tens.
To help with the Mile of Gold appeal e-mail FASanimals@gmail.com for a fund-raising form or call 01386 832640 for more details.
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