Category Archives: Meet the Team

Ride London 100 fundraising

Daniel CornwellI’m not sure signing up to do a 100 mile bike ride was in my “job description” when I signed up to be a Trustee for Support Adoption For Pets nevertheless I entered Ride London 100 with some trepidation.

Personal circumstances have seen a move to The North and coupled with a severe chest infection in February/March my training was limited to just over 250 miles this year. In comparison last year I did over 1,600 miles, culminating in a 100 mile ride in October.

After finding a hotel just 6 miles from the start I headed to The Olympic Park with real trepidation; would I complete it, could I? What time would I do? Could I possibly dip under the magic 6 hour mark. My understanding is that the six hour mark is the equivalent to a marathon runner doing a marathon in four hours – not sure though…!

The start was organized, each ‘wave’ having their own playout song – we had ‘That’s Entertainment’ by The Jam – not unhappy with this – the guys before us had Club Tropicana by Wham!

On starting the first thing I noticed was the sheer number of cyclists and how wonderful cycling on closed roads felt – it took a while to remember not to stop at red lights though…

The initial pace was (for me) ferocious, and I covered the first twenty miles in around an hour…it didn’t feel fast though and I was happy with my hydration levels and general all around energy/food levels.

The hills started at around 46 miles – Newlands Corner. For me this was the second hardest of the day’s climbs. Short(ish) but very sharp and difficult to get a rhythm on. I did my usual, stick to the left of the road, largest rear cog and just plodded my way up the hill. I must have been overtaken by dozens of people. The first ‘stoppers/walkers’ needed overtaken but I managed to get to the top ok…but then…just a few miles later – Leith Hill.

Leith Hill rises to some sections of around 12%. I am fine with gradients of up to 10%…above this though and I struggle – I’m carrying about a stone too much in all honesty and I am definitely not built for hills.

Leith Hill was an absolute pig but, again, I found a rhythm and spun my way to the top. I knew the worst was over…in fact Box Hill was amazing, I really enjoyed it…partly the views, partly the road surface (it makes  a huge difference), definitely the camaraderie, the self deprecation of other cyclists. Then it was a bit of a free wheel back into London – through Kingston and Wimbledon with huge crowds cheering you on, to finally hit the Mall. I didn’t have the energy to sprint, but I made it. I looked at my time – 5 hours 53 minutes. Better than I could possibly have imagined. On a 100 mile ride I averaged 17mph. I think this was fuelled, at least in part, by adrenaline but I was shocked at how much you get carried along by the crowd.

It was an incredible day and just the day before I hit my fundraising target of £1,000 for Support Adoption For Pets. Emotional phone calls home over the line and the trundle back to the North West via St Pancras, and Cambridgeshire (to pick my car up) followed. As I write this, three days later I have yet to wipe the grin off my face!




The pictures above show my data after Ride London and my data for 2014.

Route and Hill


The picture above shows the route and hill profile.

Meet the Team – Laura Messenger

Laura MessengerHi, my name is Laura and I’m the fundraiser for Support Adoption For Pets. I joined the team in January 2015; before that I spent a year working as a community fundraiser for a small animal rescue in Manchester.

At the moment I don’t have any pets; my partner and I would like to get a dog, but at the moment we’re just too busy! My family have always been cat owners and they’ve all been rescue pets. My sister was even a ‘failed fosterer’ – she cared for a mum cat and a litter of five kittens, and three ended up as permanent additions to the family!

My job is to organise all the different fundraising activities that Support Adoption For Pets does to bring in the money which we then give out to rescue centres. The first big activity of the year was our #MakesMeSmile fundraising drive and raffle. This year we sold over 400,000 raffle tickets which is an incredible amount! There aren’t many jobs which involve phoning a complete stranger to tell them they’ve won a brand new car – but mine does, and it’s brilliant!

For me the most important part of my job is seeing the effect that the donations have on local rescues. I know first-hand how hard rescues work for the animals in their care. The sad fact is that there are far too many homeless and abandoned animals out there, and not enough spaces in rescues. There are very few organisations that they can turn to for financial aid, so I’m thrilled to be working for the biggest grant giving organisation for animal rescues in the UK.

After our #MakesMeSmile campaign I sent out over 430 cheques to all sorts and sizes of rescues (writing out that many cheques is hard work!), and many responded to tell me how they would be spending the money. A lot of the donations went towards paying vet bills. Some rescues used the money to pay for repairs, or to buy equipment. One rescue used their donation to pay for a fire alarm system – it’s not something that first comes to mind when you think about rescues, but it’s essential for protecting the animals!

The job is very busy, very varied – and it wouldn’t be possible without our supporters. Every raffle ticket, lottery entry, sponsored event– or a good old-fashioned cash donation! – it all goes to such fantastic causes. It’s great to know that when I do finally adopt a dog, I’ll also be working ‘behind the scenes’ to help so many other animals find their forever home.

What’s a “typical” week?

I often get asked what it’s like working for Support Adoption For Pets is like and what a “typical” week looks like. Well, the answer to that is that there is never a typical week here! My role is so varied; I regularly wonder where my week has gone!

This week started with a really productive meeting with our PR agency, Smoking Gun, we discussed the action plan for the coming months which included some super ideas for a very special milestone for the charity……….all will be revealed very soon!

One of the many dogs looking for a new home at North Clwyd Animal Rescue

On Wednesday, Emily and I visited North Clwyd Animal Rescue to discuss their grant application which has been submitted to help fund their on-site veterinary clinic which will benefit the centre and help reduce their ever increasing vet bills. While we were there, we took the opportunity to meet some of the animals currently in their care including several cats and their kittens.

We called into the maternity unit and met a family who had brought in their daughter to view the kitten they had adopted which was still a little too young to leave his mum yet. I am sure little kitten, Mikey, will soon be off to settle into his new home.

We then met the dogs and I personally fell for Teddy, a 7 month cocker spaniel who had been brought into the centre the day before! It’s a little bit of an occupational hazard with our roles! He is definitely one that I will be getting back in touch with Nicky about…. just to see how he is getting on ( I promise)….. whilst I work on my hubby and persuade him that our house can accommodate another family member.

Thursday was a little different again! The entire Support Adoption For Pets team spent the day at Society For Abandoned Animals in Sale, Manchester so that we could film a “How to Guide” for completing our Grant Application form and the process.

The idea being that the charity team appear in a short film to explain how easily UK based pet rescue and rehoming centres can apply for a grant from Support Adoption For Pets. We wanted to feature Society For Abandoned Animals as they have recently been awarded £30,000 following a grant application – so who better to explain to other rescues how easy the process is and once awarded how a grant can benefit a rescue?

In between my action packed days I have been processing the latest batch of free rabbit neuter vouchers. Did you know that in the last year we have neutered over 5,300 rabbits that have come through our adoption centres? I am sure that this will only increase as we are in the process of rolling out the scheme to allow new adoption families to redeem our vouchers at local Vets 4 Pets surgeries.

Lynn Stoddard

Meet the Team – Emily

EmilyHello, I’m Emily and I am the Rehoming Centre & VIP Coordinator for both Support Adoption For Pets and Pets at Home. Being 23 I’m the baby of the team and do like to remind the team of this every once in a while. I moved over to Manchester in the summer of 2013 after spending 4 years in Huddersfield for university but I’m originally from Llandudno, North Wales which I’m very proud to say – my desk is decorated in an array of Welsh memorabilia! Being Welsh, naturally I’m an avid rugby fan but I also have a passion for athletics and skiing – the team will tell you I’m a little competitive.

Before moving to work in the Support Office I used to work for Pets at Home as a store colleague for just over 5 years and have been working within the Charity Team for nearly 12 months and I love it!

My job has two sides to it, a green and a pink one! The green side of me (the Pets at Home side) looks after the charities that are on the Pets at Home VIP club and make sure that all the charities get their Lifelines to spend in store each quarter. The pink side of me (the Support Adoption For Pets side) manages the grant applications that rescues submit for funding from the charity. Rescues can apply for grants for various purposes including help towards vet bills, kennel fees, towards the purchase of a vehicle and capital projects – we’ve recently given away our largest grant ever!

We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of grant applications that we are receiving every week, especially since rescues can now easily apply on our website – whilst this keeps me very busy it just shows much help all the rescue and rehoming centres out there still need!

I love going out to visit all the different rescues that apply for funding, I think it really helps me develop my role and have a better understand of the rescues and what their needs are. Without a doubt, the best bit has got to be calling the rescues that have been granted funding by the Trustees and telling them the good news!

As well as this I love our team and how we’ll give pretty much give anything a go to and we are not afraid to get our hands dirty! This includes me organising a team of 100+ colleagues to run in the BUPA Manchester 10k in aid of Support Adoption For Pets in May – I’ll keep you posted with how the training is going!

I’m the odd one out in this team as I actually don’t have any pets! This isn’t because I don’t want one, I’ve always wanted a dog but I live in a rented flat and it just wouldn’t be fair – this is a huge part of why I enjoy visiting rescue centres so much. Whilst I don’t have a pet I do have a boyfriend who goes out running with me as part of our training for the 10k so I’d say that’s pretty close! He’ll kill me for saying that…

For anyone who is looking to get a pet I would definitely recommend adopting from a rescue as there are so many fantastic pets that are looking for their forever home and just need to be given the chance. Having been to a small number of rescue centres I was amazed by the number of such beautiful and varied pets and breeds that just want someone to take them home and show them a little bit of love and attention. Taking on a new pet is a massive responsibility and every aspect of it should be thought through before bringing home your new family member but I would always pay a visit to your local rescue and rehoming centre as you never know who you’ll meet and fall in love with!

Meet the Team – Diane

Support Adoption For Pets Charity Administrator

Diane and Autumn

Hi, my name is Diane and I am a Charity Administrator for Support Adoption For Pets! I’m married to John (we have been married for 27 years!!!) and we have a son Harry, who is currently studying for his A Levels. We live in Cheshire with our lovely rescue dog Penny, two chickens (Margo and Jet) and my horse Tomos (a very beautiful, but sometimes very bolshy, 5 year old gelding!).

Pretty much all of my spare time is taken up down at the stables mucking out and riding regardless of weather conditions. When I am not doing that I am walking my dog, catching up with friends, painting or reading (yes I do have some sit down hobbies!)

Easily, the best thing about my job is helping the wonderful animal charities that we support. The most rewarding thing about this job is when we hear about the “happy ending” stories of animal rescue, or receive a lovely thank-you letter; it makes the job so worthwhile.

Penny, our adopted dog, came from Manchester Dog’s Home when she was a rather shy and skinny 8 month old puppy. It was love at first sight (for her and us) and we have had her for 13 years.

Then I have Tomos. After owning my first horse Autumn for 27 years (she lived until she was 39!), I decided to get another!  (The advice of ‘you-should-be-going-for-the-easy-life-at-your-age’ got the thumbs down vote!).

Finally, there is Margo & Jet! Definitely a light bulb moment (‘let’s get some chickens’) but seriously I’m hooked.

When asked what advice I would give to someone who is looking to adopt a pet, my first thoughts are; you must be fully committed to any animal you home. Make sure your new pet is suitable for your present and future lifestyle and you’re suitable for them. A pet should be for life and be part of your family. Give them love, care, and devotion and they will pay you back ten-fold. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

My other favourite animals are orangutans and penguins! However, we just don’t get a lot of requests into the charity to support rehomed penguins!

Meet the Team – Justine

photo (24)Hello, my name is Justine and I work for Support Adoption For Pets as their Fundraising & Communications Coordinator. I live with Dom (some would say my “better half”), rescue dog Roxie, Monty (our newest edition) and six rescue rabbits! My passion has always been pets, talking and trips to Florida so it’s great that I am now able to combine two of these into my role – I’m still working on the third!

I’ve been with the charity since August 2012 and in that time the charity and my job has grown so much – sometimes I look back at a week and think “where did that go!?”

In addition to the role being phenomenally busy, there are very rarely two days the same! We go from record-breaking fundraising events, to grant awarding meetings, food donations and rehoming centre promoting and back again in one day and once that’s done it’s normally time to start the next!

Working with pet rescues to promote the amazing work that they do is an absolute pleasure and it’s lovely to hear that the support that we have offered has been, quite literally, a life saver!

With all the positives the job entails, comes the odd “character builders” – I don’t see them as negatives – and I have to say that, you do have to steal your heart occasionally.

In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be a need for rehoming centres and my role wouldn’t exist however we aren’t there yet so there are always going to be those occasions when the job is heartbreaking and I have definitely taken a couple of those to heart. Follow my “mate” Max on Twitter for one or Heidi’s story below for another! But for every sad story we come across there are several happy ending stories to shout about too! So I can deal with that!

As I mentioned above (I told you I liked to talk!), I have my own little sanctuary at home! Roxie came from the RSPCA as did Norman my eldest rabbit who is 7+ years, next came Seve, Bubba, Sergio, Ernie and Peaches – all rescues and finally our newest edition Monty. I couldn’t choose between dogs or rabbits for my favourite but I do whole-heartedly believe in the Josh Billings quote “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself”. I love getting home and being greeted like I’ve been away for years!

I wouldn’t be anywhere without my furry adopted family so when asked for my advice on pets, I would always advocate pet adoption! Some may scoff but I do believe that an adopted pet knows that you have given it that second chance at happiness! Regardless of whether a person chooses to adopt or not, I would always plead with them to think before they commit – pets don’t understand that you are too busy or that money is a little tight this month. They just want to be loved, kept safe and fed and for many, many years to come too!

If you would like to find out more about Support Adoption For Pets visit:

Meet the Team – Amy

Amy and Mackie-72-dpiHi – I’m Amy and I’m the Charitable a Foundation Manager for Support Adoption For a Pets.

Having worked for the Charity for the last 5 years I still love the challenge of the job – a desire to do more of everything from fundraising to awarding funding as the demand for our help is constantly on the increase.

Every day is different and a request for help from a rescue centre – or a pet in need – can turn the day upside down as all plans and things on the job list go out of the window as the team work together to find a way to help. I know it sounds corny but we do make a difference – it is true that we get the nicest post in the office as we get notes telling us of the happy endings stories and how our support has made a difference.

Many days in the office I am joined by my pet Labrador – Mackie, who is a rescue dog who came to live with us over 6 years ago. Having never really been loved, she just wanted loads of affection and gives it back in bucket loads, except when someone decides to eat something when her natural lab instincts kick in and she stares – pleading with you to share…. And all loyalty disappears – unless you are the one with the food. She comes to meetings, sleeps in her bed next to my desk and is a great companion – although her rather loud snoring can be a mild distraction.

Taking on a rescue dog is a big commitment – probably more so than getting a puppy. Chances are they may have been let down already so it’s even more important that you are ready for the time and commitment that any pet needs – making allowances for behavioural issues that hopefully can be overcome with time and a lot of patience – but they are so worth it!

I love all dogs, to be honest there are very few animals I don’t like – spiders and snakes are about it. My favourite – and always has been elephants – but unless we move to considerably bigger offices and have seriously big lunches – I don’t think that I’ll be bringing in one of those to join in with the team.

Meet the Team – Lynn

Lynn StoddardHello, my name is Lynn, I am the Charity Administrator at Support Adoption For Pets and this is my first ever ‘blog’ entry! So let me introduce myself, I am married and live with my hubby, teenage daughter, Rosie our dog and numerous fish close to the Support office in Cheshire.

Outside of work I enjoy long walks with Rosie and have recently enrolled at the local gym, which for anyone that knows me would find this suprising!! To relax I enjoy reading or watching a movie (with popcorn and wine of course).

As much as working within the Charity team has its serious and sometimes distressing side it is also fun and fulfilling. To be able to support the 100’s of rescue and rehoming centres to continue with their great work is very rewarding – amazingly, in the charity’s history it has supported nearly 1,000 rehoming centre, now that is something to be very proud of and I am very lucky to be able to say I enjoy the job I do.

My love for giving pets a second chance at happiness also translates at home. Rosie is our rehomed working cocker spaniel who came to us to enjoy her retirement and she certainly is doing just that! She’s definitely landed on her paws coming to us!

We also have an outside pond with 6 Kio fish, the hubby’s hobby, I simply admire them in the summer months from the comfort of my sun lounger (when it’s not raining in Manchester) whilst sipping a chilled wine! He also has a marine salt water tank which contain a variety of fish, corals, shrimps and snails !!! These I sit and admire from the comfort of my sofa!

In my role I frequently get asked what advice would I give to someone who is looking to adopt a pet? My advice is always, after thinking very carefully about the commitment needed to rehome an animal, I would absolutely say ‘go for it’, its such a great feeling to know that you have given your pet a forever home and they will love you unconditionally, there is no doubt that a new pet will bring lots of love into a family but along with this is also a lot of work.