SPCA New Zealand

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Our SPCA People: Meet volunteer Graham

15 April 2021
Our SPCA People: Meet volunteer Graham

Did you know that we have over 5000 people across the country who dedicate their time to volunteering and helping animals in need? Every fortnight SPCA will shine a light on one of our dedicated volunteers - without these incredible people, we simply wouldn’t be able to function.

Meet Graham Markwell. Twelve years ago, Graham had a stroke which resulted in his building business closing down. One day he saw an advertisement for volunteers on Facebook and quickly put his hand up to help - not only because he wanted to help animals in need, but to reassure himself that he still had the ability to be of value, physically speaking.

He’s never looked back since. “I can’t remember when I started. I guess that’s a good thing as it means you don’t have the ambition to stop,” he says.

Graham now plays a key part in improving animal welfarein the Taranaki community and the impact he's had on our New Plymouth Centre is profound. Every Tuesday morning, you can find him in the Feline area cleaning cages and litter trays, tending to the cats and kittens, smiling and interacting with people, staff, and other volunteers.

​“I absolutely love going into the Centre on a Tuesday morning.”​​

His contributions to the daily operations of the Centre are endless and invaluable. Graham also collects the pet food from donation bins every fortnight, mows the lawns regularly, and drops everything to help SPCA at short notice, should we ever need him.

Not only that, but you can often find litters of kittens in his home sprawled across the floor playing and tumbling over each other, or curling up on Graham’s lap for a cuddle. Graham has dedicated many years to fostering hundreds of animals, many of them young kittens.

“There aren’t many weeks in the year that we don’t have kittens and cats at home. They’re like part of the furniture nowadays,” he laughs.

But he wouldn’t change it for a thing. Graham has a particular soft spot for fostering and it’s one of the things he loves most.

“The satisfaction we get from raising healthy foster kittens in our home – it brings a smile to our face. There’s something about a person of my vintage going through the emotional trauma of raising these animals and giving them back to get adopted.”

“I like to pride myself on the fact that the kittens I foster are well-adjusted, healthy, and socialised with us, our pets, our children and grandchildren. Every litter we care for always ends up special in their own way.”

“We like to think we’re doing the kittens a favour, but in fact, they have us wrapped up around their little paws,” he laughs.

Graham and so many more volunteers across the country make a huge difference daily for our vulnerable animals. If you are interested in volunteering or fostering, click here.

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