TRIBUTES have been paid to a Hampshire cat lover who devoted almost four decades of her life to looking after sick and unwanted animals.

Janette Frankland, who founded the Lymington Cat and Kitten Rescue charity in 1980, has died aged 73 after battling with cancer for almost a year.

Janette and daughter Inga moved to the New Forest in 1977, living in her car before council officials found her a house in New Street, Lymington.

She later moved to a house in Highfield Avenue, eventually buying the property and transforming it into a sanctuary for cats in need of help and a home.

The charity, which costs more than £250 a day to run, now has a licence to keep up to 50 adult cats on the premises, with more being housed in helpers’ homes.

Lymington Cat and Kitten Rescue also has shops in Milford, New Milton and Pennington.

Speaking at Janette’s funeral the charity’s honorary treasurer, Jon Hancock, said: “She was one of the kindest, most generous and compassionate people you could wish to meet.

“Jan cared passionately about everything and everyone.

“If anyone or anything needed help, she would always find a way.

“She not only spoke from the heart, she acted from the heart.

“When Jan was on top form she was a truly irresistible force.

“She’d cram more into a day than many would manage in an entire week.

“Without doubt she was a local celebrity, but a very reluctant celebrity.

“She was far too modest to acknowledge that in all but name she WAS Lymington Cat and Kitten Rescue - and of course always will be.”

A large number of family, friends and colleagues attended Janette’s funeral at Bournemouth Crematorium.

A statement on the charity’s website says: “She left an indelible mark on the world of animal welfare.

“Her determination and generosity were beyond compare, and many thousands of cats and kittens owe their lives and their happiness to her inspirational work.

“It was always Janette’s wish that our rescue should continue to operate after her passing and we are delighted to confirm that this will be the case.”

The charity will be run by Mr Hancock and Theresa Foot - Janette’s “head girl” at the rescue centre.

Mr Hancock said: “We are deeply honoured that she has placed her trust in us.

“We will do everything in our power to build on her wonderful work.”