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Funeral held for animal sanctuary founder who saved more than 10,000 animals

Chris and George Rockingham with dogs Ralph and Siri. PHOTO: Chris Rockingham

Chris and George Rockingham with dogs Ralph and Siri. PHOTO: Chris Rockingham

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She was responsible for changing the lives of more than 10,000 animals and always put people before herself.

Chris and George Rockingham of PACT with a hedgehog. PHOTO: Chris RockinghamChris and George Rockingham of PACT with a hedgehog. PHOTO: Chris Rockingham

The funeral has been held for the founder of one of Norfolk's biggest animal sanctuaries Chris Rockingham after she died in her home at Woodrising, near Hingham, aged 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.

The funeral was held at Colney Woods where the couple first thought of the creating PACT and where for five years they would walk the dogs they had rescued.

In a speech Mr Rockingham said: “I met Chris 44 years ago in a little Lincolnshire coastal village of Chapel St Leonards.

Chris and George Rockingham with Pascal the chamelion. PHOTO: Chris RockinghamChris and George Rockingham with Pascal the chamelion. PHOTO: Chris Rockingham

“She persuaded me to join the movement to take over the local parish council so that we could use the village hall for the two youth clubs of the village, which she had set up. So was the start of a beautiful friendship.

“We were married in 1979 and lived and worked together on various projects, a riding school in Washington, a window company in Norwich and then in 1994 Chris had the inspiration to start PACT.

“This year in December we would have celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Forty years of ups and downs, of laughter, fun, arguments and tears, but never bored.”

Mr Rockingham has received more than 140 cards with comments and sympathies. He said he never realised she had so many friends that she helped.

A new hospital is to be set-up in Mrs Rockingham's honour. Picture: PACTA new hospital is to be set-up in Mrs Rockingham's honour. Picture: PACT

Black was allowed at the funeral, with mourners wearing bright colours to create a celebration of Mrs Rockingham's life.

Ann George, an animal carer at PACT, said her death had cast “a huge cloud”.

“She wasn't just the boss she was the matriarch of this large, close knit and sometimes dysfunctional family at PACT,” she said.

The charity is now hoping to finish an animal hospital called the Chris Rockingham Memorial Wildlife Site.

A new hospital is to be set-up in Mrs Rockingham's honour. Picture: PACTA new hospital is to be set-up in Mrs Rockingham's honour. Picture: PACT

To complete the site the charity needs to raise £50,000 to build flight and recovery cages.

To donate go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chrisrockinghammemorial

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