THE founder of a North Yorkshire animal sanctuary who devoted her life to looking after animals has died at the age of 94.

Mrs Scott, of Hambleton, ran Selby Animal Sanctuary in the village for more than 20 years, giving refuge to all kinds of animals.

Her funeral was held in St Mary's Church in Hambleton on Thursday, with All Creatures Great and Small sang in Mrs Scott's memory.

The Reverend George Greenhough, a close friend, said: "Animals were everything to her. The sanctuary wouldn't have got off the ground if she didn't have a one track mind when it came to them.

"She used to say quite openly that animals were much better than people. She firmly believed that she was serving God in looking after his creatures."

Born in Doncaster, Mrs Scott later spent time living in Edinburgh when she married her husband Tommy. The couple later moved back to Yorkshire and planned to set up the sanctuary together but Mr Scott died in the early 1990s before their dream could be realised.

Mrs Scott, who had previously had a mini sanctuary in her garden, pressed ahead and sold her home to set it up.

The sanctuary cost in excess of £20,000 a year to run and when the trustees ran out of money two or three years ago she ran it on her own income. When Mrs Scott became too unwell to continue, many of the the animals were taken in by the RSPCA in York, for which a collection was held at her funeral.

Rev Greenhough said Mrs Scott was a devout woman who rarely missed a mid-week communion.

She died in Meadow Lodge care home in Kellington.

Annette Pyrah, of Selby Wildlife Rescue, said: "She was a very tiny lady but looks were deceptive - she was feisty and formidable. Joan dedicated her entire life to animals.

"She took in farm animals - donkeys, geese, sheep - and when elderly people went into hospital she would look after their animals. Her death is a great loss."