Sanctuary on road to recovery

Owner Mandy Leigh surveys the ruined building.
Owner Mandy Leigh surveys the ruined building.
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AN animal sanctuary devastated in a fire is finally on the road to recovery after an emotional year.

The arson attack at Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary last March claimed the lives of more than 20 animals and destroyed an integral part of the home in the process.

But since readers of The Gazette answered a plea from owner Mandy Leigh for vital funds to repair the sanctuary, the building is now only weeks away from completion in July.

She told The Gazette: “Even with the new building it’s very eerie when I go in there and it’s going to take a long time for all of us to get through it.

“You can’t help but think about all the cats and kittens that died in there because they must have suffered.”

Since the fire, the sanctuary have employed a security guard to protect the site and the offenders have been caught, but Ms Leigh is still concerned the sanctuary is a target.

“It’s comforting to me the people responsible for the fire were caught because a lot of people and supporters of Easterleigh were looking for them and there’s still a lot of disgust.

“But I still don’t feel confident leaving the site and it’s still a concern.”

Andy Richards, 50, used to take care of the cats who died in the fire.

He added: “It’s a very sad memory and it will never go away because it was a terrible time.”

Mr Richards has since left the sanctuary to concentrate on taking care of animals on a voluntary basis.

An open day to celebrate the completion of the re-building work at the sanctuary will take place on July 14.