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Vanessa Cecil, 63, is living in two cars with her three dogs and four cats
VANESSA Cecil never thought she would have to call her car her home. She also never thought she would be evicted from the house she had lived in for 20 years and brought her two daugthers up in.
Now living in two cars – her three dogs and four cats in one and herself in the other – the woman who used to run a wine business in Helmsley, and an interior design business in Easingwold, is living a life far from what she has been used to.
Despite being offered help from concerned friends and family, the 63-year-old cannot bear to leave the area where she used to live, which her cars now overlook.
“I have my cars, I own them and no one can take them away from me. I could not bear to be in another rented house only to have that stripped away from me again,” she said. “This has been like a savage beating for me. I believed that I would be able to stay in my home for life.”
Vanessa was evicted last week from her rented farmhouse in Carlton, Helmsley, after being served with an eviction notice in February last year.
Since then she has battled with the courts, who evicted her firstly on the grounds of a shorthold tenancy agreement and later, when that was disputed, for non-payment of rent, for more time to find somewhere else to live.
“I take responsibility for some of the mistakes in my life and I admit in the past I may have been six months behind on rent, but I calculated it and got the numbers together and believe I had overpaid.
“I think, from my accent, they thought I was posh, but I want people to know that this can happen to anyone, no matter what background you are from.”
Wearing four layers of clothing, a woollen hat and rubbing her hands together to keep warm, Vanessa’s main possessions are now only the essentials for herself and food for her companions.
The rest of her life is packed away in a shipping container with some of it still on the side of the road outside of what she used to call her home.
Despite this though, she says she has no current plans to move on. “There is no plan at the moment. I’m going to stay here until I’ve gathered myself together and I know what to do,” she said.
For Vanessa this is the second time she has been evicted. In 1993, she was forced to leave her home after her split from her late husband, David, the twin brother of the late racehorse trainer Sir Henry Cecil.
“When David left me I went to the doctor, who told me I was borderline clinically depressed, so I took the medication to make sure I pulled myself together. I have to be careful otherwise I might start to suffer again.”
Her daughters, Sapphire, 30 and Anoushka, 38 both live in London and are “frantic with worry” about their mother’s living arrangements.
But Vanessa is refusing to accept help if it means she cannot take her animals with her.
She said: “It is extremely difficult to find somewhere that will take animals. Occasionally you will get somewhere which allows for one pet, but not four dogs and three cats. I’d rather die than have to give them up.”
Vanessa has been in contact with housing charity Shelter, who she says has been supporting her.
Ryedale District Council is also aware of Vanessa’s situation and has offered to help her find her alternative accommodation.
A member of Ryedale District Council Housing Options team, who works with people to help solve housing issues, said: “Yes, we have been involved with this lady and we have absolutely been working with her to discuss the options available to her.”
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