Published: 13:40, 19 April 2021
| Updated: 15:04, 19 April 2021
A woman who has devoted her time to care for homeless animals has been recognised as part of a national awards ceremony.
Laura Birch, a volunteer for Second Chance Animal Rescue in Crockenhill near Swanley, is through to the final of One Voice for Animals UK's (OVFAUK) Volunteer of the Year competition.
OVFAUK was set up last year to support small animal rescue organisations struggling due to covid restrictions, with a vision to provide long-term support to the organisations.
It launched the awards last month to give recognition to those who have dedicated time to care for animals over the past year.
The Pet Rescue Volunteer of The Year, the Wildlife Rescue Volunteer of The Year and the Sanctuary or Animal Hospital Volunteer of The Year awards are up for grabs.
One of these winners will then be crowned overall Volunteer of the Year.
Laura said: "Volunteering at the rescue is an absolute privilege. I find the whole experience so rewarding.
"I am motivated by being able to help rehome some of the domestic animals that have come into the rescue, taking home a few myself.
"It's always so lovely when you see them leave the rescue to go to a loving home. I am also very fortunate to work with some amazing species that have so much personality.
"I get a massive sense of achievement to know that I have ensured the animals who have a permanent home with us, have a clean, safe environment, providing enrichment via food or spending time with them in their enclosures, and getting to know their characters."
There are prizes available for the finalists with cash awards for the rescues the winners volunteer with.
The winners will be announced via a live Facebook announcement as part of OVFAUK's virtual coffee morning event on May 1.
"For me volunteering gives back as much as you give," added Laura.
"There are of course sad times, and for many years this prevented me from volunteering, as I knew, I would find it upsetting and hard to deal with.
"However, there really are far more positives. To know that an unwanted animal has been provided with shelter, love and hope outweighs the sad times.
"The animals have become part of my family now and I feel a massive amount of commitment and responsibility to them all.
"Every living thing deserves the best life possible..."
"Every living thing deserves the best life possible. Nothing asks to be here, so if I can make a small difference to the lives of these animals, that is the best motivation in the world."
Almost 300 organisations have registered to be listed on OVFAUK's public directory as a single go-to place for the public to find local animal rescues.
Registered organisations range from hedgehog hospitals to reptile rescues and numerous traditional dog, cat and small animal rescues.
The event is sponsored by Elements for Life, an award winning vegan chocolate company.
The winners will be announced via OVFAUK's Facebook page.