Meet the Volunteer: Helen
From 1st to 7th June 2023 it is Volunteer Appreciation Week!
3rd June 2023
Originally from Rochdale, Helen moved to Cumbria twenty-eight years ago. Helen has two grown-up children and four grandchildren. She currently works four days a week for an animal health company and devotes Friday mornings, from eight o’clock until lunchtime, to Oak Tree. Helen has a cat and a German Shepherd who was rehomed from Oak Tree. She also has her own horse, Seren (short for Serendipity), an Arab cross who she got as a yearling.
Helen’s experience and understanding of her horse Seren’s behaviour led her to volunteer two years ago in the equine department, where she supports the team in "whatever needs doing". This frees up the team to work with individual animals ready to be rehomed.
There are currently four donkeys, five goats and a Shetland pony that keep the Equine Team busy. Helen’s role includes mucking out the stables, grooming and field management (picking up poo!). Her devotion to Seren’s welfare very much informs her care and understanding of Oak Tree’s four-legged residents. This includes Matilda the goat, who has a reputation for being "a bit grumpy" and in need of sensitive handling.
Helen is also a bucket collection volunteer and says she loves meeting people "who give what they can and enjoy swapping stories about their pets. Their generosity is so touching."
Helen chose to volunteer with Oak Tree because she had a couple of their dogs previously. She also understood Oak Tree’s methods and ethos and decided she wanted to do something useful on a Friday. Going online to see if there were any volunteer vacancies, Helen saw there was a vacancy in the Equine Department and immediately applied. Helen has never regretted volunteering and would encourage anyone thinking about it to go ahead and do it!
When asked about her most rewarding moments, Helen says, “It’s always lovely when horses are rehomed”. She also finds it incredibly heart-warming when an animal comes into Oak Tree, perhaps shy and timid, and then gradually developing in confidence. Chammy, the Shetland pony, who came into Oak Tree was very timid but is now "coming into his own". He’s much more confident and happier in his surroundings. Similarly, Flash, who wouldn’t let anyone near when he first came, is now out in the field with the others.
Enjoying what she does and spending time with the animals and humans keeps Helen coming back to Oak Tree. She also enjoys cuddles with the goats especially Gremlin, who struggles with Arthritis. And then there’s Gizmo, who is only eighteen months and was brought in to keep Gremlin company due to Matilda being so feisty and bossing the other goats around!