‘She was unlike anyone else’ – Devoted animal sanctuary owner Carol dies age 67
PUBLISHED: 08:30 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:30 17 August 2020
An animal lover who ran a sanctuary for more than 40 years has been described as “unique and kind” following her sudden death.
Carol Harris, 67, who ran the Jaybeth Animal Santuary, near Haverhill, for 43 years, died on Monday August 10.
She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of oesophageal cancer in March too late to undergo any treatment and died at home last week surrounded by her animals which she “would do anything for”.
She leaves three daughters, Opi, Willow and Breeze Outhwaite, and a grandson who she loved dearly.
Ms Harris started the animal sanctuary 43 years ago when it had previously been a cattery and kennels.
She turned it into a safe haven for animals and became well known in East Anglia for her incredible work – with people turning to her for animal advice.
Over the years she saved thousands of animals, rehabilitating, rehoming or releasing them into the wild wherever possible, or offering a forever home at the sanctuary.
She went into schools and community events, teaching children about wildlife and animal welfare.
Originally from Boston, Lincolnshire, Ms Harris loved animals from a young age and trained to become a veterinary nurse.
But her eldest daughter Opi, 39, said her mother didn’t like the sad side to her career and chose to work at sanctuaries instead.
Following the death of her brother in her 20s, Ms Harris moved to Barnadiston to start Jaybeth Animal Sanctuary – which she devoted her life to.
She had a no destruction policy which meant animals would never be put down simply because they were difficult or hard to rehome.
Ms Outhwaite said her mother aimned to improve life for all animals and she worked with sanctuaries and rescue centres up and down the country – including the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.
“She was not afraid to plough her own furrow,” said Ms Outhwaite.
“She was completely unmaterialistic and was extremely generous, particularly when it came to animals.
“She would never say no to helping one and she would do way beyond what anyone else would do.”
Ms Harris wanted to be at home at the sanctuary when her time came, as “nothing could take her away from the animals”, explained Ms Outhwaite.
She said her mum would spend almost every waking and sleeping moment on the sanctuary, but she also loved to garden and would bring half-dead potted plants back to life.
“She was very unique,” explained Ms Outhwaite. “People knew her for her work at the sanctuary, but with us she had a very silly side.
“She really was unlike anyone else.”
Ms Outhwaite said her death had come as a “huge shock” to the family, who have been left heartbroken.
The Kingfisher Wildlife & Exotics Sanctuary said: “Carol will be sorely missed by friends and family and the animals in need have lost a true saviour.”
A fundraising page has now been set up for anyone who wants to donate to help care for the animals at the sanctuary.
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