AN animal lover has won celebrity backing for the building of a sanctuary for strays.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has sent a signed pen for an auction to raise funds for Saltburn Animal Rescue Association's (Sara) £300,000 appeal to build a shelter in east Cleveland.

Actress Joan Collins has sent a signed baseball cap, while comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have sent signed books and CDs.

Actress-turned-politician Glenda Jackson has sent a letter and a signed copy of Hansard, while a £1,000 Vivienne Westwood jacket was sent to the home of auction organiser Pam Hildreth.

Knitwear designer Betty Jackson has also donated a cashmere sweater.

Mrs Hildreth said: "If we raise £1,000, we will be quite happy. Every penny will go to the Sara fund."

Sean Connery lookalike Nick Richmond and the band The Classics are giving their services free at the auction, to be held at Saltburn Golf Club on Friday, June 6.