FORMER soap star Gemma Atkinson has urged people to support an animal sanctuary after bosses announced they are losing thousands of pounds due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary in Edenfield, which relies solely on donations, is losing £55,000 a month as the site and all its bookshops and cafes remain closed due to lockdown.

Sanctuary manager, Karen Weed said: "The longer this goes on the more desperate it gets.

"We're caring for all the animals and people have been extremely generous but it costs a lot to keep the sanctuary going and, with little income, it's hard.

"Our open days raise around £10,000 each and we don't know if we will be able to have any this year."

Gemma, who is president of the sanctuary, said: "Obviously it’s a tough time for everyone, including charities, and for the work that goes on at Bleakholt looking after all the animals on site and giving them the best life possible.

"I was part of the 60 year celebrations for Bleakholt and it’s amazing to think it’s been there so long doing such a good job.

"I can’t wait to take my daughter Mia there when it’s possible to do so, it’s an important, unique charity so please support it if you can."

The sanctuary has an Amazon wishlist and people can drop off food at a hut at the entrance to the sanctuary. There is also a just giving page at ­—