Meet the volunteers: Life as an RSPCA animal centre volunteer
We couldn't rescue, rehabilitate and rehome the thousands of animals that we do every year if it wasn't for our hard-working staff and volunteers. To celebrate their commitment, we wanted to shine a light on our dedicated volunteers and all of the work they do for needy animals.
Q. Hi Mags, can you please tell us what you do for the RSPCA?
A. Hello, I'm Mags Richardson and I volunteer at Bryn-y-Maen Animal Centre near Colwyn Bay in North Wales. I've been volunteering for the RSPCA since September 2008 - I started out volunteering in the kennels and after a couple of years I was taken on as a casual member of staff until last year.
Alongside this, I have volunteered as a home visitor and regularly do fundraising collections at my local Pets at Home. I also collect donations of pet food and do animal transfers using the centre's van.
I've also helped at the fundraising dog shows and used my local contact to get the police and Mayor to come along. I've also completed my own fundraising challenges, like climbing Snowdon with friends at the centre!
Q. Tell us why you decided to volunteer in the first place?
A. Animals were a big part of my life when I was young and my mum was an associate member of the RSPCA in the 1950s. We always talked about the animals and the RSPCA, and would regularly help with sponsorship. When I retired from my job, I decided to volunteer at Bryn-y-Maen and have been here ever since.
I've always had animals in my life, including budgies, canaries and cockatiels, mice, rats, hamsters and ferrets, and dogs - including boxers and a welsh sheepdog. In my photo, you can see Elsa, my Staffy who helps me when I do fundraising collections at Pets at Home.
Q. How has the pandemic affected your volunteering role?
A. I've been volunteering two days a week and also taking the donations up to the centre when the boxes need emptying at the supermarkets. Recently, I've mainly been volunteering in the cattery. Last week, the staff asked me to spend some time with a two-week-old kitten to make a fuss and help get the little guy used to people. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Q. What are you most looking forward to when things get back to normal?
A. I'm looking forward to returning to my home visiting role and more fundraising activity - both of which have both been on hold while we're all social distancing. Elsa is also looking forward to her fundraising roles at Pets at Home too!
Q. Describe what is it about volunteering with the RSPCA that keeps you coming back?
A. I volunteer with a great team at the centre. I know all the local RSPCA people, not just at the centre but also the local inspectors as well. And of course, animals are my life.
Q. What's been the highlight of your volunteering role to date?
A. In 2011, I was awarded the Queen Victoria bronze medal - awarded for service to animal welfare. I've also had the chance to go to the Patron's Lunch, a street party on The Mall to celebrate the Queen's patronage of over 600 charities. I met the Princess Royal and saw other members of the Royal Family too.
However, every time I volunteer it is a highlight for me. I drive the centre's van to transfer cats and small animals, and just driving the van with the RSPCA logo on the side makes me feel proud.
Q. What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering for the RSPCA?
A. There's so much you can get involved with, like me, no doubt you will love it and want to help in any way you can. Just remember to listen to instructions and complete all your training and you'll be fine!