Yesterday, we attended the inspirational International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) annual Animal Action Awards at London’s House of Lords.
There, we heard a number of unforgettable stories about ordinary members of the British public going to extraordinary lengths to help animals – and today, we’re sharing those stories with you.
From dogs to swans to hedgehogs to seals, these are the everyday people saving members of the animal kingdom great and small every day…
Veterinary Award: Ruby Shorrock
While a student vet Ruby noticed the challenges faced by homeless pet owners. She discovered that no homeless hostels in Glasgow would take people with dogs. She founded The Trusty Paws Clinic to offer free veterinary advice and treatment for dogs owned by those living rough or in temporary housing, with the help of vet student friends. Ruby has now started offering similar clinics in London.
Young Fundraiser of the Year: Storm Burgess
Storm, from Darnall in Sheffield, has suffered serious health problems in recent years, but has not let that stop her helping local animal welfare charities. In 18 months, she has raised in excess of £6,000 [$7,387, €6,718]. With an interest in cats, dogs, horses and hedgehogs, she is helping 16 charities in her local area with raffles, cake sales, and by donating her own toys and pocket money.
Avian Award: Alex Farmer
Alex, from Whitby, began her career as a teacher but was drawn to wildlife rescue. She initially combined her day job with volunteering with wild birds and animals at a local veterinary practice. She was soon juggling teaching with caring for wildlife. In January 2015, she gave up her teaching job to focus fully on her passion for wildlife rescue at her centre, Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. Although Alex takes in everything from ‘tired bees’ to foxes, birds, badgers and even seals.
Animal of the Year Award: Roscoe the dog
Roscoe’s long service of 11 years with London Fire Brigade has helped keep Londoners safe. He helps establish whether a fire’s been started deliberately, using a keen sense of smell more accurate than man-made technology. His visible presence at fire investigations acts as a preventive measure as well as a reassurance to the local community. Roscoe’s attendance at suspicious scenes has even led to confessions from those responsible.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Diana Lewis
Diana, from North Molton, North Devon, worked as a voluntary ambulance driver for the RSPCA for 13 years. She then founded her own voluntary ambulance service, North Devon Animal Ambulance, 16 years ago. With her husband Michael driving a second ambulance, Diana has helped thousands of injured and orphaned animals. (Plus unwanted domestic pets across North Devon.)
Swan Rescue Award: Dan Sidley
Dan, from Selby, set up the Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital at Barlow Nature Reserve near Selby. He receives up to 4,000 calls to swan rescues per year and admits around 1,500 of the birds to the centre annually. To read our interview with him, click here.
Wildlife Rescue Award: Tonia and John Garner
Tonia and husband John, from Hemsby, are from Norfolk. When they married, instead of a traditional wedding gift list, they asked loved ones to donate to a fund. They used the money to start their animal centre, Foxy Lodge Wildlife Rescue. After spending their honeymoon working on plans for aviaries and enclosures, they set about making their dream a reality. They have since rescued and rehabilitated thousands of animals and birds.
Community Award: Louise Russell
Louise from Clarkston, Glasgow, founded charity Give A Dog A Bone almost three years ago to offer assistance to elderly people and enable them to cover the costs of adopting a needy animal from a shelter. If necessary, their pet’s food costs and neutering can also be paid for. The aim of the organisation is to challenge the problem of loneliness for the elderly while also providing forever homes to unwanted or homeless dogs, cats or other rescue animals.
Animal Campaigner of the Year Award: Andy Smith
Andy, from Lidget Green, Bradford, was devastated when his pet husky Murphy was stolen while out for a walk in 2014. He did everything possible to publicise Murphy’s plight and encourage members of the public to look out for him. His Facebook page Get Murphy Home quickly attracted 50,000 followers and Murphy’s story was soon being publicised by a host of celebrities. Murphy was finally found in Manchester three months later and safely returned to Andy. Andy decided to use the positive outpouring of public support to work to reunite other lost dogs with their owners through his ‘Murphy’s Army’ Facebook pages.
For more information about IFAW, click here.