A real-life Dr Dolittle in south-east London is hoping to expand his animal sanctuary as his home has become overrun with rescue pets.

Niall Lester, 35, started New Hope Animal Rescue 17 years ago, rescuing cats, dogs, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

The charity, started by Niall and co-founder Steph Derry, 36, specialises in helping animals on death row and creatures with medical needs.

But the operation has outgrown their Abbey Wood home, and now the team are hoping to crowdfund £300,000 to expand their premises.

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Niall, who works full-time as a local authority animal welfare officer, said: "I started rescuing animals at a young age and it just happened to get this big.

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"At the moment, we're running things from home - we have a cattery, pigs, chickens, and turkeys - it's a proper sanctuary.

"We even got a skunk the other week - someone bought it as a pet and didn't want it, the exotic pet trade is quite bad at the moment.

"The space we have just isn't enough, we're restricted with what we can do and the animals we can take.

"We rent at a local boarding kennels for the dogs we take but it's really expensive - around £2,000 a month - but we have rented blocks for nine years.

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"Everything's a bit higgledy-piggledy at the moment - I work full-time and so does Steph, who's a veterinary nurse for a big charity - and we're working 19-hour days.

"We're covering two-thirds of the costs with our own money, but we just need help with the last bit.

"We'd toyed with the idea for long time, but we'd really like to utilise volunteers at the new location and take on more animals, and that's why we're doing the crowdfunder."

The team are hoping to move into Kent to expand their operation, but need to remain close to London for work.

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Niall, who has rescued animals since the age of 18, has funded the whole charity with Steph, and the pair are now being forced to sell their home in order to expand.

He added: "I want to bring everything to one space, maximise our farm rescue and improve our dog rescue - we need to grow.

"We've funded everything ourselves but we just can't stretch to this last bit.

"We've viewed a couple of places to get an impression of what we can do, and some fantastic things have happened so far.

"We've got a £12,000 cattery being donated by another charity, and the rescue centres know us and have been helping us a lot.

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"It's really hard to reach out to the public and we've got a lot of money to raise.

"We take in a lot of dogs from council pounds and other rescues bring us difficult dogs because we don't destroy them - we're doing something different.

"We don't get rehoming fees because we work on the animals as a middle man - we solely rely on donations.

"We're selling our house and giving everything we've got to make this happen.

"We've worked and worked to build it up and we're not asking for a free ride, we're just asking for the end of the funding."

Visit the GoFundMe crowdfunder page for the New Hope animal rescue centre land appeal