STAR of stage and screen Joanna Lumley lent her influential weight to a farm’s cash appeal.

Mrs Lumley, who starred in television’s Absolutely Fabulous alongside Jennifer Saunders, is a patron of the Farm Animal Sanctuary in Middle Littleton.

On Sunday, the sanctuary launched its Mile of Gold appeal during an open day, to raise £70,000 to buy the land that is currently leased by the sanctuary and so secure its long-term future.

Mrs Lumley has been a patron of the sanctuary for years, and is a friend of the owner Janet Taylor.

Mrs Taylor praised Mrs Lumley’s ‘deft touch’ with the public during the fund-raising day, when she spent four hours signing autographs, chatting to visitors and posing for photographs.

The day pulled in more than 600 people and raised £8,000.

Mrs Taylor said: “It was excellent. The number of people here was more than double what we would get on our open day usually.

“We had people from all over the country, and some who came from the village who we have not seen before.

“Joanna was wonderful, and was here from noon until 4.30pm spending time with people. She really helped us get the Mile of Gold appeal off to a good start.”

  • The actress was making a good impression on Vale folk before she even arrived at the park. Mandy Gurney and her mother Ali were filling up at Twyford filling station on the Sunday morning, only to see Mrs Lumley get out of her car at the next pump.

Mandy said: “Joanna was kind enough to have a photo taken with my mum, and also gave her an autograph reading, ‘Ali, love Joanna Lumley’.

“It’s not every day you meet a celebrity – especially not at the local garage.

“She was polite, friendly and seemed very passionate about the sanctuary.

“It was great meeting her.”