POP star Leona Lewis has kicked off the festive season in style, designing a range of Christmas jumpers to raise money for Brentwood’s Hopefield Animal Sanctuary.

The non-profit organisation, in Sawyers Hall Lane cares, for about 400 sick, unwanted and mistreated animals.

And the X Factor winner, who has been a trustee of the sanctuary for several years, will be at the sanctuary today, between noon and 4pm. She will be selling her range of jumpers and also showing visitors how they can sponsor one of the animals looked after by the sanctuary.

Ahead of the visit she chatted exclusively to the Echo.

So exactly why did she start supporting Hopefield?

“I am a huge animal lover and have been since I was a child,” she explained. “It has always been so important to me to be a voice for the voiceless and i wanted to use my platform to bring awareness to these beautiful animals.

“Hopefield is as much a sanctuary for animals as it is for people. Whenever I’m there I feel calm and at peace. Many of the animals come from abuse and neglect and it is so heart-warming to see them finally be given the life they deserve.”

What does she think is the most challenging part of the work done at Hopefield?

“I have so much respect for the all of our staff and volunteers here,” she said. “It is not easy to care for all of these animals 24/7, make sure they are fed, warm, healthy, happy. It's a stressful job, but such a rewarding one. I am so thankful for each and everyone of them.

“These animals cannot speak for themselves. It is so important that we give them a voice and bring attention to the abuse that they have suffered in the hopes of stopping it from happening to more animals

“I want people to know that these animals are living, breathing creatures who have emotions just like you and I. They are such gentle souls and can teach us so much. I hope that when people visit they can see that and they leave here with a desire to be a kinder, better person.”

Find out more at www.hopefield.org.uk