Elderly and sick cats at threatened Blackpool cat sanctuary could be put down as shelter faces closure

An 18-year-old cat sanctuary that has taken in hundreds of sick, feral and abandoned cats over the years could be facing a tragic end - along with some of its furry residents.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 11:45 am
One of the cats at the Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge cat sanctuary on Grosvenor Street could be headed in the same direction as its namesake next month, as a dispute over the building's mortgage has landed its owners, Father Anthony Gillick and Helen Steivel, in court.

Fr Gillick, 70, hopes to raise £11,000 in interest to put an end to the dispute with Barclays bank - and save the sanctuary from closure.

Otherwise, he said, some of the 35 cats in their care, who can no longer be rehomed due to old age or illness, may have to be put down.

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Fr Anthony Gillick

"We started the sanctuary around 18 years ago, when we were fortunate enough to have the money for the vets fees. We never put a cat down," he said. "At the lowest estimate, we have taken in about 220 cats and rehomed more than 100.

"Not only do we rehome them, but we take in cats on the street, and people come along and they find their missing cats safe with us.

"We also educate people about having their cats neutered, because the last thing we want is a colony of feral cats."

The couple are due to fight their case at Blackpool Civil Court on January 10.

They claim a mix-up sparked by the Barclays take-over of The Woolwich Building Society, with whom they originally took out their mortgage, has resulted in a whole host of money worries.

The prospect of losing the shelter comes as a double blow, as the building is registered as a place of worship, and is the couple's home.

Fr Gillick said: "Finding another place that could accommodate so many cats not only would be difficult, it would be near impossible. I don't care about what happens to me; I'm in my last years of my life. The cats are my life - I'm more busy now than I was 30 or 40 years ago looking after them.

"I would like to be able to say that we are going to be alright. I would do anything to keep the sanctuary, our home and our chapel alive."

Barclays was approached for comment.

Can you help the Rainbow Bridge cat sanctuary, or offer a good home to any of its feline residents? Visit www.rainbow-bridge-cat-sanctuary.my-free.website/