A popular cat shelter which has saved thousands of felines has closed it doors.
Selfless volunteers Diane Band, 63, and Joyce Rippin, 71, have dedicated their lives to nursing cats back to health and finding homes for them.
The shelter at Scarcliffe has housed cats from across the region since 1985 - but is now shut.
Diane Band, co-ordinator at Scarcliffe Cat Shelter, said: “Our decision to retire is due to Joyce’s failing health and the sudden, tragic death of our daily helper Janice Smith last year.”
On the closure, she added: “It feels like my right arm has been cut off - it’s going to be weird. I’ll miss it like hell.
“I have people coming up to me who I have housed cats to and the majority of the time I can’t remember who they are be honest! There has been so many wonderful people who have taken cats in.
“But I’ll look forward to having some me time and my six dogs I have will keep me occupied.”
Diane, who has juggled a full-time job as an industrial microbiologist, still expects people to ask for her help.
“They’ll be people still leaving cats in boxes at my gate for wanting me to home them. I’ll do what I can to help of course but not on the scale that I’ve previously done it.”
The pair, alongside Janice Smith, helped thousands of cats - some in harrowing circumstances including one who was left for dead after being caught in a snare trap.
Joyce added: “We would like to thank all our loyal supporters for their donations of time, cat food and money.”
She also expressed gratitude to James Farrell and the team at Croft Veterinary Centre in Bolsover for all their work on saving and helping cats back to full health.
• The cat shelter started thanks to an appeal in the Derbyshire Times in the 1980s for someone with a spare room to foster a cat. It began to take shape from one small shed to a purpose built block of 17 pens.
Diane plans to enjoy her retirement from nursing cats to spend more time with her six rescue dogs out in the countryside.