A PAIR of Southampton volunteers who help local pets in need have been shortlisted for a national charity award.

Karen Thorn and Brian Cross, both from the PDSA Southampton PetAid Hospital in Northam, have been nominated in separate categories.

Karen, who began volunteering in her local PDSA store in Portswood, before finding a permanent position at the charity’s pet hospital, is in the New Volunteer of the Year category, while Brian is up for the coveted Veterinary Volunteer of the Year category.

Both volunteers were nominated by Gemma Renwick, head nurse at the Southampton PetAid hospital, which cares for around 140 sick and injured pets every day.

Karen, who supports the vet nurses in the kennels by caring for the hospitals’ pet patients, said: “I had no idea what I was going into, as I thought I would be cleaning the kennels and cattery and maybe with a bit of luck I would get to cuddle and feed the animals.

“What a huge surprise it was to find that I could not only clean up after the animals but learn to care for them too.

“Everything was so different to what I had in mind, I didn’t know that I would be learning a whole new career in something I never thought possible.”

Brian, who began volunteering nine months ago as a receptionist, said he would encourage others to do the same.

He said: “One of the best bits about volunteering is seeing the happiness of the owners when their pets have been seen by a vet and have been given the necessary treatment or advice to bring their pet back to health.

“I would say to anybody who has considered volunteering – do it!

“Don’t be one of those people who say ‘I wish I’d done it’, when it’s too late.”

PDSA, which provides free veterinary treatment to the sick and injured pets of people in need, has over 5,300 volunteers helping in its charity stores, PetAid hospitals and fundraising groups across the country.

Ms Renwick said: “Karen and Brian are both amazing volunteers and we are extremely lucky to have them.

“They give up their free time to help us and we’re all really proud that two of our volunteers have been shortlisted.”

To find out more about volunteering with PDSA, call 0800 854 194 or visit pdsa.org.uk/volunteers.