FORMER Royal Marine Pen Farthing has said he is “so bloody happy” the staff who worked at his animal shelter have made it out of Taliban-led Afghanistan.

Paul “Pen” Farthing, who was forced to leave his Afghan staff behind amid chaotic scenes in Kabul last month, described it as “absolutely mind-blowing” that they arrived in Pakistan on Saturday.

The ex-Marine from Dovercourt tweeted that his Operation Ark campaign to get workers and animals from the Nowzad shelter in Kabul out of the country has been “a complete success”.

Mr Farthing said the Nowzad staff are “now safely in Islamabad and in the care of the British High Commission”.

He added: “I am so bloody happy right now! This is absolutely mind-blowing. It has still not really sunk in.”

Mr Farthing said he had seen pictures of the staff after their arrival and the smiles on their faces “just tells you everything you need to know”.

The Afghan staff had reared dozens of rescued animals by hand, but were not able to leave during the hurried mass evacuation as foreign troops withdrew from the nation some two decades after US forces removed the militants from power in 2001.

And the staff’s attempts to evacuate nearly led to them losing their lives when all hell broke lose at Kabul airport after a suicide bomber killed more than 170 people.

The driver of their car was also shot at, Mr Farthing revealed.

Responding to the news that the staff managed to flee Kabul, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “Pleased that Nowzad’s Afghan staff, who were called for evacuation, successfully crossed the border into Pakistan today.

“Our @ukinpakistan staff are assisting them and we look forward to welcoming them to the UK in the coming days.”

Since arriving back in England at the end of August, Mr Farthing had been working to help evacuate 68 Nowzad animal shelter staff and family members, including 25 children and one newborn baby, from Afghanistan.

Mr Farthing told the Gazette he would not rest until they were safely home.

The Operation Ark campaign has caused controversy, despite receiving a huge amount of public support.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace complained some of Mr Farthing’s more militant supporters had “taken up too much time” of senior commanders.

Mr Wallace felt the operation was hindering attempts while he stated he couldn’t be seen to be prioritising pets over people.

The final British flight left Afghanistan on August 28, bringing to an end the UK’s 20-year military involvement in the country.

More than 15,000 people have been evacuated by the UK since August 14.