THE owner of a closure-threatened animal sanctuary has lost her fight against an eviction notice after an intensive three weeks of mediation failed to resolve a land dispute.

Janet Taylor has run the Farm Animal Sanctuary at Manor Orchard Farm, Middle Littleton, near Evesham, for the past 14 years but faces being thrown off the land by its owner, leaving the future of more than 600 animals in doubt.

For the past three weeks she has been fighting an eviction notice imposed by land owner Patricia Bernie, who says she gave Ms Taylor the farm as a “gift” 14 years ago, on a temporary basis.

Ms Bernie now wants the land back and her solicitors have been locked in talks with Ms Taylor’s legal team since March 13 over a possible solution.

However, that came to an end this week and the eviction notice still stands.

Ms Taylor is now appealing to the community to help her raise vital funds to cover legal costs and enable her to buy the land in order to ensure the sanctuary can remain open.

She said: “The ideal solution for us would be to buy the farm. That’s what we’re trying to negotiate now but we’re still not sure that she would sell it to us.

“We cannot afford the legal fees, its crippling us. We do have legacies but we don’t know when they are going to come to fruition. If it goes to court it will be even more money.

“I’m sending out letters to trustees and anybody who will help us. So many of those animals cannot be moved for welfare reasons. They would have to be put down. Ideally we stay here and they will live.

“It’s just a huge weight that we cannot put to the back of our mind. It’s the future of 600-plus animals.

“If there’s anything that people can think of such as sponsored walks of coffee mornings.

“I don’t have time to do it as most of my energy is spent looking after the animals.”

People have already come forward with fund-raising ideas including Gary and Ingrid Taylor who are doing a sponsored 70-mile walk on the south coast in June.

They will be taking on the challenge in memory of their 16-year-old daughter who recently died and who wanted to open her own animal sanctuary after reading about Manor Orchard Farm in a magazine.

Actress and patron Joanna Lumley has backed the animal sanctuary for 25 years.

She said: “It has always struggled to keep its noble head above water, placing the welfare of neglected and damaged animals at the heart of its operation. I appeal to the good nature of the owner of the farm to show compassion and reverse the decision to evict Jan.”

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