Canine cuddler Shirley is ‘truly one in a million’

Shirley Wickham with canine carer Jemma Murray and Fern the beagle

Shirley Wickham with canine carer Jemma Murray and Fern the beagle

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TAILS were wagging to celebrate the birthday of Dogs Trust Shoreham’s oldest volunteer.

Shirley Wickham has volunteered with the charity for 11 years, so staff were keen to mark her 80th birthday on January 12.

She started helping in the Dogs Trust charity shop in Shoreham High Street and during her time there, it is estimated she has sorted through hundreds of donated items, washed thousands of loads of laundry and cuddled a multitude of dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Shirley became the first Canine Cuddler at the rehoming centre, in Brighton Road, Shoreham. The role was created to help keep the dogs company and give them plenty of love and affection while they await new homes.

She now takes the newer volunteers under her wing and is a friendly face to everyone who visits the centre.

“I have loved every minute of my time at Dogs Trust,” she said.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see the dogs going off to new homes, especially if they have been at the centre for a while.

“It brings me so much joy to spend time with the dogs and see the difference I can make to their lives. I really look forward to my time spent there - it’s safe to say it is a highlight of my week.”

Tracey Rae, rehoming centre manager, said: “Shirley is a wonderful volunteer who has given us so much of her time over the last few years.

“Her calm and gentle manner puts the dogs at ease straight away. It’s lovely to see her sitting with the dogs and stroking them as they fall asleep.

“Shirley is our secret treasure and we are so grateful to her for all her continued support. She truly is one in a million.”