Surrey volunteer celebrates 16 heart-warming years at Battersea

On 24 October 2001, Surrey resident Mick O’Neill started his first volunteering session at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Today, the retired animal lover is celebrating his amazing 16-year anniversary at the Berkshire centre. 
 
Mick, who regularly volunteers alongside his wife Jean, first began volunteering at Old Windsor’s Cattery, spending valuable time socialising with the homeless cats and kittens. He also became Old Windsor’s regular Santa Claus at the centre’s annual Santa Paws event, spreading Christmas joy to staff, members of the public and Battersea’s dogs and cats. Mick and his wife now visit the Berkshire kennels weekly to sit and play with the dogs, providing them with companionship, training, and a comfy lap to sit on. They also walk on average 6 dogs every week, receiving a waggy tailed welcome from the residents every time they enter kennels. 
 
Alongside volunteering, it wasn’t long before Mick and Jean became regular foster carers to the dogs and cats in desperate need of a home environment. The pair decided to permanently rehome their foster dog, Pebbles, in 2013. And it just so happens the 5-year-old Terrier Cross was born on the couple’s wedding anniversary at the Old Windsor centre.
 
This week, Battersea is celebrating being chosen as People’s Postcode Lottery Charity of the Week. Since 2014, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have awarded the leading animal welfare charity £1.3m to help towards the care of the 7000 dogs and cats that arrive across its three centres every year. Battersea has been able to expand its Volunteering and Fostering Department and provide volunteers and foster carers with vital equipment. It has also enabled Battersea to hold its first Volunteering and Fostering Conference in June.
 
Battersea volunteer Mick O’Neill said: “My wife and I were inspired to volunteer at Battersea after retiring from work and wanting to keep fit. Our daughter told us about the opportunity and we haven’t looked back since. We have meet some fantastic animals over the years and couldn’t imagine life without our Battersea dog Pebbles. We love being a part of the Battersea family.” 
 
Charlotte Fielder, Battersea’s Head of Volunteering & Fostering, said: “Mick is a prime example of the love and commitment our volunteers and foster carers show to the animals at Battersea. 
 
“We’re so grateful for all the hard work and effort Mick & Jean put in to caring for our animals every week. We have over 1000 volunteers and foster carers at Battersea who are integral to the work of the Home.
 
“The financial support we have been awarded from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery has helped the charity to expand its Volunteer and Fostering Department, enabling us to provide more love and care to our homeless dogs and cats. We’re very proud to be their Charity of the Week.” 
 
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For more information and images please contact 020 7627 9291 or email press@battersea.org.uk 
 
Notes to editors  
About Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society. 
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • In 2016 the Home cared for over 7000 dogs and cats.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 270 dogs and 200 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at the charity but the average stay for a dog is 35 days and 22 days for a cat.
  • In addition to the site in South West London, the Home also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
  • To make a donation visit our website or call 0207 627 7883.
  • For further information on Battersea Dogs & Cats Home please visit www.battersea.org.uk.
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @BDCH or facebook.com/Battersea
 
About People’s Postcode Lottery
  • People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes, while raising money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and globally
  • A minimum of 31% goes directly to charities and players have raised £237.8 million for good causes across the country
  • £10 for 10 draws paid monthly in advance with prizes every day. For further prize information visit: www.postcodelottery.co.uk/prizes 
  • Maximum amount a single ticket can win is 10% of the draw revenue to a maximum of £400,000
  • Players can sign up by Direct Debit, credit card or PayPal online at www.postcodelottery.co.uk, or by calling 0808 10-9-8-7-6-5
  • Postcode Lottery Limited is regulated by the Gambling Commission under licences number: 000-000829-N-102511-014 and Number: 000-000829-R-102513-013. Registered office: Titchfield House, 69/85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4RR
  • People's Postcode Lottery manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different charities. For details on which society lottery is running each week, visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk/society 
  • This prize was part of the draw promoted by Depaul UK/Action Aid/Water Aid/Postcode African Trust