PDSA Volunteer Awards 2015

Meet this years winners

After an enormous amount of deliberation and lively debate the wait is finally over; the judges have named the winner of the PDSA Volunteer Awards 2015!

The consensus was that the nominations this year were of a higher calibre than we’ve ever seen before, so even making it to the shortlist was no mean feat. In fact, the judges found it so hard to decide on a victor in three of the categories, that they named a Highly Commended volunteer as well as an overall winner.

So, without further delay, we are extremely proud to announce the winner of the Volunteer of the Year Awards 2015 as retail volunteer Marc Lyons, from our Newcastle-under-Lyme Shop! Marc won the judges over in the Retail Volunteer of the Year category and carried on his winning streak to be crowned our overall champion for 2015. 

Volunteer of the Year

Winner: Marc Lyons – Newcastle-under-Lyme Shop

Marc Lyons has volunteered for PDSA for eight years and is described as a ‘cornerstone’ of the team. Kelly Byrne, Shop Manager said: “I am absolutely thrilled for Marc – I nominated him with the full backing of the team because he plays such a huge part in the smooth running of our shop. Not only does Marc volunteer for 28 hours a week, but he holds down a near-full time job as well. He’s also been known to work a night shift and still turn up for his shift with us in the morning – that’s dedication! 

Speaking about his win, Marc said: “It’s great to know that what I do is so well thought of. Between my job and volunteering I have a very busy working week – over 66 hours – and that’s without overtime! I love every second of my time at PDSA: Meeting customers and witnessing their generosity gives me such a buzz and knowing that all our hard work is going to help pets in need is very rewarding indeed.”

Marc with his PDSA Volunteering Awards

Newcomer of the Year

Winner: Debbie Lucking – Croydon Pet Hospital

Debbie Lucking has been volunteering at Croydon Pet Hospital since February and was nominated by Veterinary Nurse Team Leader, Suzanne Wood.

Suzanne said: “Debbie started volunteering with us because her family had all grown up and she had more time on her hands. Since then, she has become a really valuable member of the team, helping out in the kennels, doing the washing and cleaning theatre. She never stops smiling and her happiness is infectious! She is a real ‘people person’, always taking the time to help both clients, who may be worried or upset, and other volunteers. When she does find employment we all hope she’ll be able to continue volunteering with us.”
Debbie holding her PDSA Volunteering Award

Retail Volunteer of the Year

Highly Commended: Anthony McCrory - Lisburn Shop

Tony McCrory began volunteering for PDSA over two years ago, following in the footsteps of his wife and son who also help out in the shop.

Speaking about his nomination, Tony said: “I am utterly speechless – I truly believe that I am just a part of a fantastic team of wonderful, hard-working people that care deeply for PDSA. I chose the PDSA for a very personal reason. My son has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and my wife and I felt that he needed to have more social contact. A friend of the family told us about how she’d volunteered for PDSA and loved it. My wife and son decided to give it a go. The staff and other volunteers there were brilliant with my son and did wonders for his self-confidence and social skills. So in order to thank them for this, I felt the best thing I could do was to offer them my own time. My dad has since joined the volunteer ranks too!”
Tony with his PDSA Volunteering Award in a PDSA Charity Shop

Veterinary Volunteer of the Year

Winner: Rachel Lightfoot - Middlesbrough Pet Hospital

Rachel, a qualified vet, volunteers at our Middlesbrough Pet Hospital in her spare time, giving up weekends and holidays to help treat sick and injured pets.

PDSA Vet Helen Dyson, who nominated Rachel, said: “We are so fortunate to have Rachel’s knowledge and experience. As well as helping out in consultations, Rachel has used her passion to prevent illnesses by running regular vaccination clinics and help ensure as many pets are protected from deadly diseases as possible. We really value her support.”

Speaking about her nomination, Rachel said: “I have a fantastic time volunteering for PDSA. The whole team here are committed to helping pets and their owners and I enjoy being able to make a difference to animals’ lives in difficult times. I knew the Pet Hospital was a busy place, but I was surprised at just how many pets are treated every day.”

Rachel holding her PDSA Volunteering Award outside a PDSA Pet Hospital

Highly Commended: Tom Aston – Oldbury Pet Hospital

Tom Aston volunteers two days a week at PDSA’s Pet Hospital in the town, The Marian and Christina Ionescu Centre of Surgical Excellence, assisting clients in the waiting room and keeping the building and its surroundings tidy. Spending most of his time in the reception area, Tom often reassures worried owners and lends an ear to upset clients.

Speaking about his nomination, Tom said: “I feel very humbled to have been nominated for this award. I really enjoy being part of a great team and have been made to feel at home here. One of the best things about volunteering for PDSA is meeting the clients and their pets and seeing the difference the charity makes to their lives.” 
Tom holding his PDSA Volunteering Award outside a PDSA Pet Hospital

Special Achievement of the Year

Winner: Sebastian Drinkwater – Yeovil Shop

Sebastian Drinkwater volunteers six days a week at our Yeovil shop and is a firm favourite with the shop’s customers, missing them dearly when on holiday and, likewise, they ask after him when he isn’t there.

Mary Cain, Shop Manager, nominated Sebastian for the award. She said: “Sebastian is a real support to the whole team here and brings smiles to our faces every day with his positive attitude. Sebastian always takes time to get to know our customers and what they are looking for. A lot of customers have a soft spot for him as a result. Sebastian never lets his autism stop him from excelling at any task and for the past two years he has been single-handedly responsible for driving our Gift Aid programme.”

Sebastian says that he was “staying at home a lot which was unhealthy and thought volunteering would help me get out and make friends too. I like chatting to the customers – it’s very interesting. I also like finding out about their hobbies and work status.”
Seb, with his PDSA Volunteering Award outside a PDSA Charity Shop

Highly Commended: Daryl Jenkins – Bristol area Stock Collectors

Daryl Jenkins has volunteered for the charity for 20 years, helping collect donated stock from supporters’ homes to sell at PDSA’s shops in and around Bristol.

Liz Walker, Shop Manager at Thornbury says of Daryl, “I have known Daryl for nearly 14 years and have always found him hard working and friendly; he always does anything asked of him with a wonderful smile on his face! He works on the van with our stock collector and I have received so many nice comments about him. When he’s in the shop with us he sees the funny side of everything and has a wicked laugh.

Speaking about his nomination, Daryl said: “I’m very proud that I’ve been shortlisted for this award. I love animals and had a cat until last year, so I know what a huge difference PDSA makes to the lives of pets and their owners. I really enjoy volunteering, especially getting out and about meeting people.” 
Darryl holding his PDSA Volunteering Award outside a PDSA charity shop

Fundraising Achievement of the Year

Winner: Val Morrison – Belfast Fundraising Group

Speaking about her nomination, Val said: “I am over the moon at being shortlisted – it’s a real coup for the whole fundraising group – I couldn’t do what I do without every single one of them.

I think constantly about the difference pets make to people’s lives, especially the elderly who rely on pets for companionship.  And where would they go if there was no PDSA to provide veterinary treatment for their poorly pets? Because there is no charity like PDSA in Northern Ireland, the need for the services is unprecedented. I am so proud to help keep this vital charity working their magic – here’s to the next five years of fundraising!”

Val holding her PDSA Volunteering Award

Retail Team of the Year

Winner: Swansea Morriston Team

Shop Manager Richard Barber, who nominated the team, said: “The volunteers here are the cornerstone of the shop. If someone is ill, they will always rise to the challenge and offer to cover. They take real pride in the service they offer our customers, with one volunteer even learning to greet shoppers in any one of six different languages, just to make them feel more welcome!”

Christine Evans, Assistant Store Manager says the team also go above and beyond to help one another. “We took a placement from an agency of a gentleman who barely spoke - he was so withdrawn and just sat alone, head in hands, at break times. His confidence was at rock bottom and he saw little chance of future employment opportunities or relief from the loneliness he was suffering. Over a period of 12 weeks the team brought him out of the doldrums and had him chatting and loving the contribution he was making. They really are the sweetest bunch of people.”

PDSA volunteers at PDSA Charity Shop in Morriston

Highly Commended: Ashford Team

Assistant Manager, Pat Gibbs, who nominated the team, says, “The team here in Ashford have a fantastic mixture of skills and always put our customers’ needs first, taking the time to get to know them and ensuring they feel valued for their support. We have a diverse team of mixed ages, but everyone gets on so well, sharing experience and new ideas.

Area Retail Manager, Graeme Allen, says:  “Whenever I contact the store, no matter who answers, you can always feel the smile from the other end of the phone. They seem such a caring and passionate team who obviously enjoy each other’s company. Recently, the shop manager had two weeks holiday and she rang me to ask if it was okay for the volunteers to cover for the fortnight. I asked if she was sure it wasn’t too much for them, but they were adamant they could cope so I agreed. Not only did they cope, but they beat like for like sales during both weeks - a tremendous performance!”
Volunteers in the PDSA Charity Shop, Ashford