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Her work must go on - husband's tribute to co-founder of Norfolk animal sanctuary

PUBLISHED: 21:18 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:30 22 March 2019

Chris and George Rockingham at the PACT Sanctuary  Picture: Matthew Usher.

Chris and George Rockingham at the PACT Sanctuary Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

The founder of one of our region’s largest animal sanctuaries has passed away.

PACT helps wildlife, as well as domestica animals   Picture: Chris RockinghamPACT helps wildlife, as well as domestica animals Picture: Chris Rockingham

Christine Rockingham died at her home at Woodrising, near Hingham, on Sunday at the age of 72.

She ran the People Animal Care Trust (PACT) Animal Sanctuary with her husband of 40 years George, which currently cares for more than 1,600 dogs, cats and animals of all shapes and sizes at its base at River Farm.

Mr Rockingham said his wife died of a suspected heart attack. He said replacing her would be “almost impossible”, but he was determined the sanctuary’s work would continue.

“She died before her time as far as I’m concerned because I’m 80,” he said. “I’m taking over the place, I want to make it something I can hand over to someone else and just keep a watching brief.

Chris Rockingham cared for all animals   Picture: Graham CorneyChris Rockingham cared for all animals Picture: Graham Corney

“We started the sanctuary because Chris had a nervous breakdown and the only thing that kept her alive.

“The sanctuary’s got to endure, we’ve got 1,600 animals here, we employ 60 people.”

Mr Rockingham said his wife had loved animals since childhood. He said a £50,000 appeal would be launched in her memory, to complete an unfinished wildlife centre at the site.

PACT has re-homed an estimated 5,000 animals since it was set up in 1994. The group has a strict “no kill” policy.

Speaking on its 10th anniversary, in 2005, Mrs Rockingham said: “It is something I always wanted to do. When I was a child I read an article in my mother’s women’s magazine about a sanctuary in Kent and that inspired me.

“When I came to Norfolk I got involved with Redwings Horse Sanctuary but I wanted to do all species.

“Did I think it would ever get this big? I did, but I don’t think anyone else did.”

Last year, the Rockinghams were presented with a special International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) lifetime achievement award by TV presenter Bill Oddie at the House of Lords.

At the time Philip Mansbridge, UK director of IFAW, said: “Chris and George’s lifelong commitment to rescuing and caring for so many animals is outstanding and they are a great example of animal welfare in action.”

Christine Rockingham’s funeral will be at Colney Woods on Monday, April 15 (3pm). No flowers be sent, instead donations can be made via the website at www.pactsanctuary.org.

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