A former model and actress who swapped the designer dresses and high heels of Hollywood for the waterproof jackets and wellington boots of an animal shelter has backed our Give a Pet a Home campaign.

Alexandra Bastedo, who starred in the cult original Casino Royale, Batman Begins and TV series The Champions, has been running the ABC Animal Sanctuary, in Pulborough, since taking a back seat from acting.

She explained: “I’ve always loved animals. As a child I apparently used to save mice from a compost heap and feed them with a pipette.

“By the age of nine I was sweeping the local vet’s floor but at 16 I was whisked off to Hollywood.”

Danced with Brando The Hove-born girl was eventually sent to live and work in London where she only had room for goldfish. But when the teen was the victim of a stalker, she was allowed to buy a Doberman.

The actress fell in love with the breed and has had them ever since.

The 66-year-old’s rescue centre is a far cry from her Hollywood days, but she insists it’s what she loves doing.

She said: “I once danced with Marlon Brando, went on a double date with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan and was chatted up by SteveMcQueen.

“I was auditioning for his film and he said to me, ‘baby, you should be with a winner’.

“I wasn’t having it – I was a well brought up Brighton and Hove High School girl.”

But despite hobnobbing with Hollywood greats and royalty, the actress decided to dedicate herself to her first love. “It’s really difficult at the moment. We have more animals coming in than being re-homed. Cats are especially bad. We have another 17 kittens arriving at the weekend.”

Among her other animals looking for a loving home are Vietnamese pot bellied pigs Ant and Dec. The duo were originally bought as family pets but the novelty soon wore off and they were dumped on ABC.

She added: “They’re fantastic pets – so intelligent and they love to have their tummy tickled.”

Marty, the 15-hands high Gypsy Cob, is something of a gentle giant. He likes to exercise over small jumps and is extremely well behaved.

Adorable cats Minnie and Katie are also looking for loving homes with owners with time to give them a bit of tlc.

She added: “I think it is important for families to have pets. They teach children respect, responsibility and give them a play mate.”

For details and to help out call 0796 704 6068 or visit www.abcanimalsanctuary.