Animal heroes from around the UK to receive awards

Animal heroes from around the UK to receive awards
Monday, 17 October, 2016

Animal heroes will tomorrow (Tuesday) receive prestigious awards for their outstanding work from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (

IFAW’s annual Animal Action Awards ceremony will be hosted at the House of Lords by Baroness Gale and presented by naturalist and broadcaster Bill Oddie.

This year’s winners include Glasgow vet Ruby Shorrock, who runs free community clinics treating the dogs of homeless people. Receiving awards alongside Ruby will be Sheffield schoolgirl Storm Burgess, who has raised more than £6,000 for animal causes and Alex Farmer, from Whitby, for her work to rescue and rehabilitate injured wild birds.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “We are delighted to be able to highlight the fantastic work done by all the winners of IFAW’s 2016 Animal Action Awards. They are all true animal heroes. Their stories are inspirational and we hope that their example will encourage others to do all they can to protect animals.”

This year’s Animal of the Year Award goes to 12-year-old springer spaniel Roscoe, whose keen sense of smell has helped London Fire Brigade investigators sniff out the cause of hundreds of suspicious fires around the Capital and beyond. With a flawless ability to identify a variety of ignitable substances, Roscoe, nicknamed ‘The Dog of Truth’, enables the Brigade’s Fire Investigation Team to quickly pinpoint the cause of the fire and improve the conviction rate against arsonists who endanger life with their criminal acts. Now approaching retirement, Roscoe has never missed a day of work because of sickness of injury.

Also honoured is Diana Lewis, for founding North Devon Animal Ambulance and devoting her life to wildlife rescue. Dan Sidley, from North Yorkshire, receives an award for rescuing and treating thousands of injured swans at his Selby hospital. Elsewhere, Tonia and John Garner, from Norfolk, are recognised for their devotion to caring for all kinds of birds and animals at their Hemsby sanctuary.

Awards will also be presented to Louise Russell, from Glasgow, for founding a charity enabling elderly people to adopt rescue pets and Bradford’s Andy Smith, who worked tirelessly to find his stolen husky Murphy and now campaigns to reunite other lost dogs with their owners.


For more information, photos or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling in the IFAW UK Press Office on 020 7587 6708, mobile 07917 507717 or email

Stock photos of award winners are available in advance and photos from the ceremony, which lasts from 12 noon until 2pm, will be available shortly after.

Notes to Editors:

If you would like to nominate someone for an Animal Action Award for 2017 please write to: IFAW Animal Action Awards, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UD.

Animal Action Awards are sponsored by the Express newspaper.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

See below for additional background on winners, awards and regions:

VETERINARY AWARD: RUBY SHORROCK. While a student vet Ruby (23), became aware of the challenges faced by homeless pet owners and discovered that no homeless hostels in Glasgow would take people with dogs. She founded The Trusty Paws Clinic in the city to offer free veterinary advice and treatment for dogs owned by those living rough or in temporary housing, with the help of some vet student friends. Following the success of the Glasgow clinics, Ruby has also started offering similar clinics for homeless people and their dogs in London.

YOUNG FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR AWARD: STORM BURGESS. Animal lover Storm (11), from Darnall in Sheffield, has suffered serious health problems in recent years, but has not let that deter her in her dedication to helping a wide variety of local animal welfare charities. In just 18 months, the youngster has raised in excess of £6,000. With a particular interest in cats, dogs, horses and hedgehogs, she is helping around 16 charities in her local area, raising money through everything from raffles and cake sales to donating her own toys and pocket money.

AVIAN AWARD: ALEX FARMER. Alex (27), from Whitby, began her career as a teacher but was drawn to wildlife rescue and initially combined her day job with volunteering with wild birds and animals at a local veterinary practice. She was soon juggling teaching with caring for wildlife, often taking young birds and animals into school with her and combining regular feeds and nursing of orphaned wildlife with educating her pupils on their care. In January 2015, she gave up her teaching job to focus fully on her passion for wildlife rescue at her centre, Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. Although Alex takes in everything from ‘tired bees’ to foxes, badgers and even seals, from across Yorkshire and County Durham, the majority of the centre’s wildlife patients are birds.

ANIMAL OF THE YEAR AWARD: ROSCOE THE DOG. Roscoe’s long service of 11 years with London Fire Brigade has helped keep Londoners safe. As well as helping establish whether a fire has been started deliberately, using his keen sense of smell which is more accurate than man-made technology, his visible presence at fire investigations acts as a preventive measure as well as a reassurance to the local community. Roscoe’s attendance at suspicious scenes has even led to confessions from those responsible.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: DIANA LEWIS. Diana (72), from North Molton, North Devon, worked as a voluntary ambulance driver for the RSPCA for 13 years before founding her own voluntary ambulance service, North Devon Animal Ambulance, 16 years ago. With the help of her husband Michael driving a second ambulance for the charity, Diana has gone on to help thousands of injured and orphaned wild animals across North Devon. They also come to the aid of unwanted or abandoned cats and dogs, as well as working to rehome domestic pets which can no longer be cared for by their owners. She is known locally as the ‘animal angel’.

SWAN RESCUE AWARD: DAN SIDLEY. Dan (29), from Selby, began volunteering at a swan rescue centre at the age of 10 and his passion for saving this graceful species which faces a range of potentially deadly threats soon took over his life. For more than 10 years he has worked around the clock to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick or injured swans, which are treated at his Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital at Barlow Nature Reserve near Selby. Dan receives up to 4,000 calls to swan rescues per year and admits around 1,500 of the birds to the centre annually.

WILDLIFE RESCUE AWARD: TONIA AND JOHN GARNER. Tonia (52), and husband John (57), from Hemsby, Norfolk, met 10 years ago and discovered they had shared the same dream throughout their lives; to found a wildlife sanctuary. Two years later and after much planning for their future project, the couple married and instead of a traditional wedding gift list, asked friends and family to donate to a fund which was used to start their animal centre, Foxy Lodge Wildlife Rescue. After spending their honeymoon working on plans for aviaries and enclosures, they set about making their dream a reality. In the eight years since then, they have rescued and rehabilitated hundreds of animals and birds each year, and expect the figure for 2016 alone to exceed 1,000.

COMMUNITY AWARD: LOUISE RUSSELL. Louise (41), from Clarkston, Glasgow, founded charity Give A Dog A Bone almost three years ago to offer assistance to elderly people and enable them to cover the costs of adopting a needy animal from a shelter. If necessary, their pet’s food costs and neutering can also be paid for. The aim of the organisation is to challenge the problem of loneliness for the elderly while also providing forever homes to unwanted or homeless dogs, cats or other rescue animals.

ANIMAL CAMPAIGNER OF THE YEAR AWARD: ANDY SMITH. Andy (45), from Lidget Green, Bradford, was devastated when his much-loved pet husky Murphy was stolen while out for a walk in December 2014. He did everything possible to publicise Murphy’s plight and encourage members of the public to look out for him. His Facebook page Get Murphy Home quickly attracted 50,000 followers and Murphy’s story was soon being publicised by a host of celebrities and Andy’s MP, George Galloway. He was even mentioned in Parliament by David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions. Murphy was finally found in Manchester three months later and safely returned to Andy. Despite his own quest reaching a happy conclusion, Andy decided to use the positive outpouring of public support to work to reunite other lost dogs with their owners through his ‘Murphy’s Army’ Facebook pages.

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Press Contact

Clare Sterling (IFAW UK)
Contact phone:
020 7587 6708
Contact mobile:
07917 507717
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