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SPCA’s ‘top dog’ recognises outstanding volunteers with 2024 SPCA Nestlé Purina National Volunteer Awards

17 June 2024

The awards celebrate the volunteers around New Zealand who have been nominated for their selfless and generous support of SPCA and the animals.

SPCA’s ‘top dog’ recognises outstanding volunteers with 2024 SPCA Nestlé Purina National Volunteer Awards

With thousands of volunteers around the country, we're able to work together to create a better life for New Zealand’s animals. SPCA simply could not function without the invaluable help of these fantastic volunteers and fosterers who donate their time to help animals in need.

Just in time for National Volunteer Week, we’re delighted to announce the winners of the 2024 SPCA Nestlé Purina National Volunteer Awards!

As winners, each volunteer receives a certificate of recognition and a Purina prize pack of goodies – and the good news was delivered to each winner via a phone call from SPCA’s ‘top dog’ CEO Todd Westwood.

“Speaking with these generous people, you can hear their commitment to something bigger than themselves, their belief in community, and their singular dedication to animal welfare,” Mr Westwood says. “They are vital to us.”

This year’s winners are certainly a special bunch. Among them is a woman who has fostered more than 550 kittens – though not all at once, of course! Another makes eco-friendly toys from recycled newspapers for animals who have been rescued. And yet another volunteer juggles work with small animals in and around her full-time studies.

Nominations from around the country describe individuals who make significant sacrifices to give their time and energy to SPCA. Mr Westwood says many volunteers do this work on top of their own full-time jobs, balancing busy lives in challenging times.

“The work is huge, and SPCA owes an enormous debt of gratitude to all our volunteers and everyone who supports us. To the winners, we are so grateful to you, and I hope you feel extra special and appreciated by all of us,” Mr Westwood says.

“We survive on your kindness and because of you more animals enjoy full and happy lives.”

Mr Westwood says he is extremely grateful to SPCA’s loyal partner Purina, who has sponsored these awards for nine consecutive years.

“Purina is a dream partner who also provides essential Purina One nutrition to feed the thousands of cats and dogs in our care. We couldn’t care for animals the way we do without their help.”

Nestlé Purina New Zealand Country Manager François Le Berrigaud says celebrating the thousands of generous people who volunteer at the SPCA is a very special time of year.

“At Purina, we believe pets and people are better together and these volunteers share this passion in their dedication to making a real difference for animals. Purina supports the SPCA by providing over 100,000kgs of food annually to feed the animals in its care. I encourage anyone who may have some time available to get involved and help in any way they can.”

Devoted Volunteer: Felicity Bowden (Auckland)

Felicity Bowden, a stalwart of the SPCA Māngere Centre’s cat area, has dedicated an astounding 30 years to volunteering. Never hesitating to take extra shifts, come in for part shifts and always willing to step in during busy periods, her commitment knows no bounds. It’s not just Auckland’s felines who benefit either, she often fosters rabbits and guinea pigs to ease the load on staff. Her impending move to Tauranga will leave a significant gap in the team, but her legacy of dedication and hard work will continue to inspire.

Fantastic Foster Family - Mel Knapp (Dunedin)

Mel’s impact on Otago’s animals who come through SPCA Dunedin’s doors cannot be understated. Over the 15 years she has been a dedicated foster parent, Mel has fostered a staggering 550+ kittens. Balancing her regular job as a vet nurse, Mel is the Centre’s number one neonate fosterer, often taking on the most challenging cases. Her 24/7 wraparound care has saved many lives, and the team is endlessly grateful. Mel’s close working relationship with the staff, especially the vet team, is hugely appreciated. Her dedication and service to the SPCA, the animals, and the Dunedin community are truly commendable.

Going the Extra Mile - Janet Levy (Wellington)

If “going above and beyond” could be summed up as a person, that person would be Janet. Since she first joined our Wellington Centre’s volunteer team as a foster parent, her impact has been immeasurable. From de-stapling donated newspapers to creating toys for animals in isolation, Janet’s eco-conscious efforts have been so helpful. She established amazing relationships with various organisations to bring in supplies and distribute unused ones to other rescues. Janet also takes on the task of local supermarket collections for SPCA every four weeks. Her dedication and love for animals is beyond admirable, and our Wellington team is so grateful to have her help.

Outstanding Op Shop Team - Cambridge Op Shop

The Cambridge Op Shop team, led by the manager since its opening at the end of 2022, has shown exceptional dedication and hard work. The team’s efforts in sorting donations, maintaining a well-presented shop, and providing excellent customer service have set them apart. Their kindness and genuine conversations with customers have built strong relationships and attracted high-quality donations. The team’s growth has led to a significant increase in sales, with fundraising more than doubling in the first quarter of 2024 compared to 2023, which makes such a difference to the animals helped by the shop’s efforts. The team’s display of SPCA values and their passion for animals are truly inspiring.

Sensational Centre Team - Jen and Nicola (Christchurch)

Jen and Nicola, the all-star sister dream team, have been involved in various areas of the Christchurch Centre, including the farm team, and cat isolation unit. Their efficiency, thoroughness, and willingness to tackle any job have made them a fantastic asset. They are known for their high standard of work, love and affection for the cats, and initiative in taking on additional tasks. Their efforts in restocking, and sourcing cosy blankets for the cats from op shops and markets have been priceless. Their creative input in naming the cats has also added a unique touch to the Centre.

Young Volunteer Award – Kytti Kane (Dunedin)

Since she started volunteering at SPCA’s Dunedin Centre in 2021, Kytti’s hard work, dedication, and commitment to the Centre’s values has been incredible. She has excelled in her role as Saturday Adoption Ambassador, providing support to staff and helping with small animals. Kytti’s positive influence, inclusiveness, kindness, hard work, dedication, and knowledge have made her a treasured volunteer. Despite facing serious health issues, Kytti remains one of the most positive and inspirational people, often going above and beyond her duties to help. The animals and team in our Dunedin Centre don’t know what they’d do without her.

Runners Up

DEVOTED VOLUNTEER AWARD

  • Runner-up: Lesley Calver (Wellington): Lesley Calver, a qualified vet nurse, generously devotes two full days a week to the SPCA. Her professional background allows her to contribute extensively to surgeries and on the floor. Lesley’s commitment to cleanliness and disease control sets a high standard for others. Her willingness to volunteer during the Covid lockdown exemplifies her dedication. Lesley’s attention to detail, even in the smallest tasks, is greatly appreciated by the team.
  • Runner-up: Graham Cowley (Wellington): Graham Cowley, a volunteer since 2012, is known for his care and commitment to all creatures, big and small. His focus on hygiene and animal enrichment is commendable. Graham’s patience and positive attitude make him an excellent mentor for new volunteers at the Wellington Centre. His sense of humour brings joy to the team, and his dedication to maintaining standards is admirable. Graham’s passion for animals and embodiment of SPCA values make him an essential member of the volunteer team.

FANTASTIC FOSTER FAMILY AWARD

  • Runner-up: Selena Lamplough (Wellington): Selena Lamplough and her family have fostered 292 animals since 2012. They have cared for every kind of feline in need, from tiny bottle feeders to sick kittens. Selena and Stu’s commitment to fostering large litters has been a significant help to the Wellington team. Their hard work and dedication have ensured that the kittens return socialised and healthy.
  • Runner-up: Lynette Thomson (Wellington): Lynette Thomson, a fantastic fosterer and volunteer since 2003, has fostered 276 animals for SPCA in Wellington. Lynette’s high standard of care for all her fosters is matched by her bubbly attitude. She goes above and beyond in her duties, whether it’s cleaning litter trays or wrangling rabbits. Lynette’s commitment to volunteering, even on Christmas Day, is greatly appreciated. Her love and care for each animal that comes through the door are truly remarkable.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE AWARD

  • Runner-up: Catherine Campbell (Wellington): Catherine Campbell has been a reliable and generous volunteer since 2020. She often brings in dine sticks, which are incredibly useful for socialising unsocial or scared cats in Wellington. With an average of 17 shifts per year and only 10 missed in the past four years, Catherine’s reliability is top class. Her contributions to SPCA are greatly appreciated.
  • Runner-up: Richard Jebson (Wellington): Richard Jebson, a volunteer since 2002, constantly comes up with inventive ideas to enrich the lives of animals in quarantine. From creating a pen numbering system, to making toys for kittens, Richard’s passion for volunteering is evident. He has even built an outhouse specifically for foster animals in Wellington. We are grateful for Richard’s willingness to stay late, pick up extra shifts, and take on new tasks with enthusiasm! His contributions to SPCA are greatly appreciated.

OUTSTANDING OP SHOP TEAM

  • Runner-Up: Inglewood SPCA Op Shop: The Inglewood Volunteer Team has shown unwavering commitment to helping in the shop, regardless of the size of the task. Their consistent presence and willingness to assist customers and handle donations have contributed to the shop’s growth and fundraising efforts. Despite personal challenges, the team has supported each other and strengthened their bond. Their work has had a significant impact on fundraising for SPCA and has fostered strong relationships within the community.
  • Runner-Up: Whanganui Op Shop Team: The Whanganui Op Shop team, led by the manager for nearly five years, has demonstrated remarkable resilience and dedication. When the manager was out of action due to an accident, the team, along with retail assistant Jacki Dempsey, stepped up to ensure the shop continued to operate smoothly. Their commitment to the cause and their vibrant, dynamic contributions are invaluable. Jacki, who also volunteers in the shop, is particularly respected for her empathetic and understanding approach with volunteers. The team’s efforts contribute to revenue generation, community well-being, brand building and idea generation.

SENSATIONAL CENTRE TEAM

  • Runner-Up: Simon Lambert, Christa Harley and Vadim Traenkle (Hobsonville): Simon Lambert, Christa Harley and Vadim Traenkle have formed a mini team, consistently supporting and complementing each other. Their commitment to collaboration and communication ensures smooth and efficient operations in Hobsonville. On Saturdays, the busiest adoption day, their contributions have ensured many animals have found their forever homes. Their support creates an environment conducive to successful adoptions, and their shared commitment to improving the lives of feline friends shines through in their interactions.
  • Runner-Up: Janiene Attwood and Paige Naus (Auckland, Māngere): Janiene Attwood and Paige Naus have been volunteering in the Māngere Cattery since May 2012 and 2014, respectively. They have a fantastic working relationship and complement each other’s strengths and abilities. Despite Janiene needing to use a walker for the past few years, her enthusiasm remains the same, and Paige has stepped up to support her by sharing tasks and taking over any work Janiene finds difficult. Their reliability and hard work have made them a valued part of the Cattery team.

YOUNG VOLUNTEER AWARD

  • Runner-Up: Zane Jones Hogg (Hobsonville): Zane Jones Hogg has been volunteering with SPCA Hobsonville for the last three years. His ease in picking things up, great initiative, and patience with animals have made him a reliable volunteer. Zane is always keen to pick up extra shifts and has shown his versatility by cross-training into small animal areas. His positive attitude and ability to see and do what needs to be done have made him an asset to the feline staff.
  • Runner-Up: Abigail Roguski (Inglewood): Abigail Roguski, a 17-year-old volunteer at the Inglewood shop, has shown immense dedication to her role. She works every Saturday and Sunday and even volunteers seven days a week during the school holidays. Abigail’s eagerness to learn, motivation to help fundraise, and dedication to SPCA have made her a treasured member of the volunteer team. Her impact, especially during the school holidays, has helped the Op Shop to get stock out at a fast pace for fundraising.
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