- Paula Campbell, 47, was admitted to hospital after the repossession
- She had cared for animals at sanctuary in County Durham for 20 years
- Cost of supporting vulnerable animals at site financially crippled her
This dramatic photograph shows the moment a distraught animal sanctuary collapsed in the mud moments after bailiffs arrived to evict her from her farm.
Paula Campbell, 47, was so overcome with grief that she was admitted to hospital after the repossession of the Rainbow Ark Animal Sanctuary in Willington, County Durham.
She has devoted 20 years to looking after sick and homeless animals and her sanctuary has successfully re-homed thousands of cats and dogs throughout the North-East.
But the cost of supporting these vulnerable animals at the site on Milkup Bank Farm was financially crippling Ms Campbell, with food bills alone amounting to £1,000 monthly.
Following years of court cases and appeals, bailiffs acting on behalf of Redstone Mortgages arrived to take possession of the sanctuary due to thousands of pounds owed in payment arrears.
A large wooden pole and a tree trunk were laid across the track while the protesters blockaded the main gate with a van and Land Rover. But the anguish became too much and she fell to the ground.
Unhappy story: The cost of supporting these vulnerable animals at the site on Milkup Bank Farm was crippling Ms Campbell, with food bills alone amounting to £1,000 monthly
Jonathon Proctor, 21, who was a volunteer at the centre, told MailOnline: ‘I was the last person to get kicked off site. At about 12pm yesterday an army of bailiffs, police and locksmiths arrived.
‘Paula had what we thought was a heart attack. She’s losing her home, her life and all of her animals’
Jonathon Proctor, volunteer
‘Paula had what we thought was a heart attack. She’s losing her home, her life and all of her animals.
‘We were having a bit of financial difficulty, but we dispute that we were £6,000 in debt. We’ve got to now find 300 homes for all these animals
‘Luckily, some really good animal rescuers have agreed to say “if need be, we’ll help you”. Paula is living with her father, but it’s not ideal.
Animals on site: Horses roam at Rainbow Ark Animal Sanctuary. Redstone Mortgages said it ‘will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and welfare of all the animals at the property’
‘She’s making a few applications to the court to try and get the land back. We’re fighting this case every step of the way. We tried our utmost to stop the bailiffs.’
Her daughter Jayne was allegedly given five minutes to gather all her possessions and her pet dogs and get off the land she was now trespassing on.
Ms Campbell had since discharged herself from hospital but was still said to be in shock. Efforts were still being made to relocate more than 300 animals living at the sanctuary.
Her daughter said: ‘It’s been a horrible ordeal for the animals as well – two of our cats have run away and the dogs were obviously scared.’
Horses: Some of the other animals kept at the Rainbow Ark Animal Sanctuary in County Durha
‘It’s been a horrible ordeal for the animals – two of our cats have run away and the dogs were obviously scared’ Jayne, Paula Campbell’s daughter
In July 2012, Ms Campbell was given a reprieve to raise the £25,000 she needed to pay off the arrears, but she was unable to do so.
A spokesman for Redstone Mortgages told MailOnline today: ‘Due to data protection and client and customer confidentiality, we cannot comment on individual cases.
‘Redstone takes its obligations as mortgagee-in-possession very seriously and will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and welfare of all the animals at the property.’