SPCA Purina Volunteer of the Year Awards
Each year, we celebrate the efforts of thousands of Kiwis who volunteer their time, talent and energy to the SPCA with our SPCA Purina Volunteer of the Year Awards. The awards are our opportunity to honour those who go the extra mile to better the lives of animals, and without whom the SPCA simply could not function.
2018 Volunteer of the Year Awards
On 31 May, we announced the winners of the 2018 SPCA Purina Volunteer of the Year Awards. This year, six new award categories put a spotlight on the different ways volunteers contribute to the SPCA. The winners, chosen from more than 90 nominations from SPCA staff and volunteers across the country were:
Best Volunteer Team
Volunteer Driver Team, SPCA’s Canterbury and Ashburton Centres
Ali Peers, Barry Hazeldine, Carole Worley, Colleen Stuart, Graham Bishop and Ian Blackler make up the Canterbury ambulance team. They assist the Christchurch and Ashburton SPCA Centres to deliver food parcels to animals in need, complete property inspections for dogs ready for new homes, and transfer animals to vet clinics around the area. Recently they also completed their training for ambulance call-outs, to help our front-line SPCA Inspectors attend to emergency animal rescue initiatives.
The team were all honoured to receive the award, but say helping the animals in need and all the SPCA staff is reward enough. “Volunteering provides a positive focus, rewarding interaction, and a sense of giving back to society,” says one of the volunteers, Barry Hazeldine. “I would recommend it to all.”
Fantastic Foster Family
Rachael Knight, SPCA’s Wellington Centre
Rachael has been fostering for the SPCA’s Wellington canine team for the past eight years. During this time, she’s looked after more than 63 dogs! Rachael gives dogs at the SPCA a home sometimes for the first time in their life. She treats them as part of the family, and teaches them all about the world.
Rachael is pictured with one of her foster dogs, Stacey, who she almost cancelled a 3-week-long holiday to the UK for. “Stacey couldn’t cope living in a shelter environment, so I took her on as one of my foster dogs. I was a wreck leading up to the holiday about what was going to happen for the three weeks I was away,” says Rachael. But her family stepped in and opened their heart and home to Stacey while Rachael went away. “If they didn’t I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have got on that plane,” she says.
Rachael has fostered adult dogs, mums with pups, and young puppies. She is always happy to travel to meet potential families for her fosters, and will even have the dogs back to stay when their new families are on holiday.
Going the Extra Mile Award
SPCA’s Whakatane Centre
After last year’s Edgecumbe flood, this team of volunteers banded together and worked exceptionally hard during a very busy, emotional, and distressing time. This response was not only during the weeks immediately after the floods, but the months following. It is now one year after the event, and their efforts are still ongoing.
During the SPCA’s first response to the floods, 900 animals were rescued and since then the ramifications have been far and wide. The volunteers at SPCA’s Whakatane Centre worked tirelessly during the Edgecumbe flood which highlighted their dedication to provide an outstanding response to those in need, for both animals and people.
SPCA Centre cat Misty is the face of this special award as she was very much to the fore during the flood too. She supervised incoming animals and helped ease the stress of the volunteers.
Best Op Shop Volunteer
May Thomson, SPCA’s Auckland Browns Bay Op Shop
Over the last seven years, 85-year-old May has devoted five days a week to working at the Browns Bay Op Shop, and spends further time knitting beautiful, sought-after items to sell to help raise vital funds for the SPCA.
She is so loved by the people at the SPCA that she was nominated four times for this award! May has become close friends with many other volunteers and is much loved by them all. She is the backbone of the Browns Bay Op Shop volunteers, and without her five shifts a week the team would be hard pushed to find someone to cover for her.
Most Devoted Volunteer
Hannah Stewart, SPCA’s Auckland Centre
91-year-old Hannah has been volunteering for the SPCA for 45 years and was one of the first volunteers at the Mangere Centre when it opened in 1983. During this time, Hannah has volunteered with the animals, helped out at the Browns Bay Op Shop for the last nine years, and fundraised a significant amount of money with the SPCA Dog Squad.
Hannah is not someone who seeks out recognition, but is someone who does it because she loves animals and wants to make a difference to their lives. I am constantly amazed and humbled at the dedication of our volunteers. But when I hear about volunteers like Hannah, I feel so fortunate to be a part of an organisation who have people devoting their lifetime to making a difference.
Hannah has committed 45 years to the animals at the SPCA, and at the age of 91, she still continues to be a champion for the animals.
Outstanding Young Volunteer
The kids of a lovely Wairarapa Family, SPCA Wairarapa
These six kids have helped their parents care for hundreds of sheep, horses, goats, dogs and cats on behalf of the SPCA for the past nine years. Having a family like the Johnsons means animals who are rescued from less than ideal situations can be provided a safe place.
The Johnson kids help by rounding up the foster kittens to put them to bed at night, feeding them, playing with them, and cleaning out their cages. The six kids also help with transferring farm animals around the property by standing in strategic places around the farm.
Their mum says she believes that by being so heavily involved in their care, they are learning empathy towards animals, and getting a feeling of responsibility for the animals’ welfare. “It makes them aware that all animals require looking after, and they get to see first-hand what can happen if the animals are not given the correct care.”