A SOMERSET sanctuary that has cared for animals for 83 years could receive a share of a huge cash giveaway – but it needs your help.

Our parent company’s charitable arm, The Gannett Foundation, has provided £128,000 to support local charities across the country, and we have £16,000 to distribute in the Wales and West region.

We asked readers to nominate charities which our editorial team narrowed down to 10 across the region – including three in Somerset – that will share the money.

Readers can now collect voting tokens from our newspapers that will be used to allocate cash to each shortlisted charity proportionally.

If your chosen charity receives 25 per cent of all tokens collected, it will receive 25 per cent of the £16,000 (a total of £4,000).

Ferne Animal Sanctuary, based in Wambrook, is one of the charities that will be allocated a share of the money after voting closes on Sunday, November 20.

It plans to use the money to undertake vital refurbishment work to its chinchilla house, which currently provides a home for 12 unwanted chinchillas and degus.

The charity believes the renovation will cost £2,535. This will cover the cost of marine plywood, quartz tiles, sealant, paint, adhesive, storage units, and labour.

Chard & Ilminster News: The charity rehabilitates and rehomes dogs, cats, horses, ponies and small animals.The charity rehabilitates and rehomes dogs, cats, horses, ponies and small animals. (Image: Ferne Animal Sanctuary)

Louise Evans, fundraiser at Ferne Animal Sanctuary, said: “As the chinchillas need quite specific heating, we want to completely revamp the chinchilla house and make it more appropriate.

“If we make any more (than the £2,535 figure), we could upgrade it even more.

“We have token collection boxes in each of our charity shops in Ilminster, Chard and Crewkerne, and at our visitor centre in Wambrook.

“With the cost-of-living crisis, we’re getting inundated with people asking us to take in their pets. We tend to rehome and rehabilitate within a 40-mile radius, so we really are a local charity.”

The sanctuary was founded after the outbreak of World War II by Nina Douglas-Hamilton, the Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon, at her Ferne Estate in Dorset.

She founded the charity because she realised that people going to war had nobody to take care of their animals and needed to find them temporary homes.

Since then, it has rehomed and rehabilitated thousands of animals.

In 1975, it moved to its current premises overlooking the River Yarty Valley, and it opened its visitor centre in 2017.

As well as the collection boxes, voting tokens can be sent to our office (Chard and Ilminster News, Tangier 2, Tangier Central, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 4AS).