1. ITV Report

Devastated staff members launch campaign to save 'much-loved' Somerset animal centre from closure

Hundreds of animals will be without specialist care if the centre near Langport closes. Credit: ITV News West Country

Devastated members of staff from an animal rescue centre in Somerset are trying to raise half a million pounds to save it from closure.

Heaven's Gate Farm near Langport is one of five centres run by the National Animal Welfare Trust, which isn't making enough money to make ends meet.

More than 30 staff members are facing redundancy and hundreds of animals are at risk of being left without the specialist care they need.

The charity that runs the centre is facing several financial difficulties. Credit: ITV News West Country

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched in an attempt to raise half a million pounds. It has already secured more than seven thousand pounds.

This would keep the centre open for another six months so that the charity in charge can try to develop a rescue package.

A spokesperson from Heaven's Gate said the news has not only "devastated" employees and volunteers at the centre, but the many people from the local community who regularly visit.

Centre manager Caron Lane has thanked members of the public for their "unwavering support in these terribly upsetting times".

With so many people showing such amazing determination to save our centre, we know we must at least try to raise the money needed to keep Heaven’s Gate running. We have an enormous mountain to climb, but this crowd funder really could turn our fate around. We owe it to our animals, to our supporters, to our community and to every single one of our well-wishers to give this our all.

– Caron Lane, Heaven's Gate manager, NAWT
Staff members now face redundancy. Credit: ITV News West Country

The decision to close Heaven's Gate Farm was made by the charity because it's "facing a number of financial challenges".

A spokesperson from NAWT said it was struggling to keep up with the rising living wage and the difficulties of raising money in an "uncertain climate over Brexit."

The 31 employees of the centre now face a formal consultation process, where any proposals to save it will be considered by the charity.

The Board has considered a number of different options to ensure the future survival of NAWT as a whole and it is with much regret that we are making this proposal. We understand the devastating impact it will have on our loyal employees, volunteers and supporters as well as the local community we serve. We hope that during this consultation period, a long-term solution is found to keep the Heaven’s Gate centre from closure.

– Laura Magee, Chair of Trustees at NAWT
Bingo needed extreme rehabilitation when he was born with a deformity, but is now ready to be re-homed. Credit: ITV News West Country

The team at Heaven's Gate have cancelled their Family Fun Day on Sunday (8 September) because of the "difficult" circumstances.