AN Evesham based animal rescue centre has won an award for being the best in the UK.

Axolotl and Reptile Rescue has been awarded the accolade at the 2024 Animal Star Awards.

The centre has rescued over 8,000 animals in the last seven years and the owners hope that the award could lead to opening a sanctuary in the future.

Gareth Costellow and his wife Tara opened the centre seven years ago after helping to rehome an animal. 

Cotswold Journal: The centre has helped over 8000 animals in the last seven yearsThe centre has helped over 8000 animals in the last seven years (Image: Gareth Costellow)

Mr Costellow said: "It hasn't sunk in yet, it's hard to explain, we didn't expect to win as there were over 700 nominations. 

"We have been running for seven years now completely voluntarily. 

"We have a great team of around 16 volunteers and we help to train students and vets. 

"When animals end up at the RSPCA or the Vale Wildlife Centre, they often then take them to us.

"We are there to help people who are in circumstances whereby they can no longer care for their pet."

In the centre's first year the couple were able to rescue 200 animals but this year alone they have rescued over 1,000. 

Cotswold Journal: The centre is run completely by volunteersThe centre is run completely by volunteers (Image: Gareth Costellow)

Mr Costellow continued: "I think we have been helping more animals because people have become more aware of us. 

"We try to educate people online, our Facebook reaches over one million people per week.

"Although our centre is in Evesham, we do rescue animals UK-wide. 

"We don't sell the animals, but people do give donations and we do sell the food and housing."

The centre is fully self funded and it can cost around £150 per day to care for the exotic animals due to the heat and food they require.

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Mr Costellow said: "It all started by word of mouth really and its just grown and grown. 

"In the future we are hoping to open an animal sanctuary in Evesham with zoo style exhibits but we would need to do a lot of fundraising. 

"We currently have 200 animals in our care. 

"People are really struggling with the cost of living. 

"The most abandoned animals are probably tortoises and turtles a lot of whom have escaped gardens and the most surrendered are probably corn snakes."

Cotswold Journal: The best animal rescue centre in the UKThe best animal rescue centre in the UK (Image: Gareth Costellow)