Could this be the most hands on animal charity volunteer in the UK? Ben Wilkes, an ex-police officer from Staffordshire, is a volunteer at the Border Collie Trust GB.
Having spent his time volunteering for 18 years he was invited to become a Trustee in 2000 and made the life-changing decision in 2004 to sell his family home in order to move into the Trust to help provide 24-hour care for the dogs, after the former residents retired from their work with charity. Initially visiting the Trust in 1997 solely to donate blankets for the dogs under its care, Ben felt compelled to pledge his spare time to the charity as soon as he stepped foot inside the centre.
While he works for the charity on a voluntary basis, he is so committed to helping Border Collies in need, that he has even recruited his own wife to the charity’s cause, with the two of them available day and night for all of the charity’s various needs. From dog collection to DIY, Ben turns his hand to the full range of tasks at the centre.
“Sometimes in life you just happen to be in the right place at the right time – and that was the case with me becoming a volunteer at the Border Collie Trust. I’m now such a part of the furniture that people are surprised when they learn I’m a volunteer – they think it’s my career! Rescue work is a very unusual beast in that it can be very unpredictable, but it’s great bringing the police force mentality to the role as it gives me real focus and structure.”
For his considerable passion and hard work, Ben was presented with Petplan’s Animal Charity Volunteer of the Year 2015 award. The accolade celebrates the outstanding work, dedication and commitment of animal charities and not-for-profit organisations across the UK and the charity teams, volunteers and employees that go above and beyond in their mission to improve animal wellbeing.
The pet insurer’s 2016 awards are currently receiving nominations – if you know someone who deserves to be nominated share their story online: www.petplan.co.uk/charityawards
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Ryan O'Meara is group editor at Total Pet Publishing. A former professional dog trainer, Ryan is a frequent commentator in the media on a wide variety of canine issues including dog attacks, animal welfare and dog behaviour.