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Animal sanctuary receives surprise £25,000 boost

Most animal welfare charities rely on volunteers and donations to fund their vital work, which is why it was a nice surprise for Bleakholt Sanctuary in Manchester when Elaine Fairfax, founder of pet insurers Animal Friends, turned up at their door with a gift.

The charity's president, soap actress Gemma Atkinson, originally believed she would just be receiving a pair of exclusive concert tickets for a fundraising online auction, but then Elaine handed over a cheque for £25,000.

Elaine bid £1.1 million to Children in Need for the exclusive Take That concert tickets and decided to gift the tickets to Bleakholt as top prize in an online auction, to help them raise vital funds.

Gemma said, "We were delighted to get the Take That tickets, especially as it’s Bleakholt’s 60th anniversary this year, but for Animal Friends to hand over a cheque for £25,000 as well, which we didn’t expect at all, it is amazing."

Elaine meets some of the canine residents

Stuart Murray Head of Bleakholt Sanctuary said, "We rely on donations to run the sanctuary so this is a massive boost for us. Animal Friends have supported us with various projects over the years and they have become good friends of the sanctuary. We will be auctioning off the Take That tickets and will now put the £25,000 towards a project where the animals at Bleakholt will benefit."

The date for the auction has yet to be decided, but funds raised will benefit the charity and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey, where Animal Friends is based.

Elaine said, "Raising money for charities has been my greatest joy throughout my life, and Animal Friends has proudly supported Bleakholt for a number of years. We hope these tickets raise plenty of money for this wonderful charity, which does so much for animals of all shapes and sizes."