THEY are the animal lovers who go that extra mile so that our pets get the care they need.

Now two such volunteers at a Hampshire pet hospital have been honoured with national awards for the work they do that never expects anything in return.

Brian Cross and Karen Thorn, who both help out at the Southampton PDSA PetAid hospital in Northam, beat hundreds of entries to the PSDA Volunteer Awards to be crowned this year’s winners.

Brian triumphed in the the Veterinary Volunteer of the Year category while Karen was judged most worthy in the New Volunteer of the Year section.

PDSA’s head of volunteering Janet Compton presented the pair with trophies and certificates in front of staff at the hospital, in Mount Pleasant Road.

Ms Compton said to have two winners at one hospital was a “fantastic achievement” for the Southampton team.

She added: “We’re extremely lucky to have brilliant volunteers like Brian and Karen who give up their time to help us deliver our life saving services to sick and injured pets.

“They demonstrated to the judges that they are passionate and committed to the cause and often go above and beyond the call of duty, taking on all tasks with enthusiasm.”

Karen supports veterinary nurses in the kennels caring for the pet patients to ensure they remain comfortable.

The 50-year-old started out volunteering at her local PDSA store in Portswood last May.

Though Karen has actually now secured a job as an animal care worker at the PDSA’s Bournemouth PetAid Hospital through her work experience, but will continue to volunteer at the Southampton venue in her spare time.

“I’ve never won anything in my life before,” said Karen.

“I kind of just fell into volunteering with the PDSA but I’m so glad I did because I absolutely love it.”

“You never know where it may lead.”

Brian, who has been volunteering at the PDSA for a year helps on the hospital’s busy reception.

The 63-year-old started work there after he took early retirement and decided to use his spare time to help care for pets.

“I’m very pleased and very humbled to receive this award,” said the grandfather-of-two.

The PDSA, which provides free veterinary care for pets, has more than 5,300 volunteers helping in its charity stores, pet hospitals and doing fundraising.