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20 years working at RSPCA Derby


Authored on: 26 January 2024

We are celebrating our Animal Care Manager, Lucy's 20 year anniversary of working at RSPCA Derby! We asked her some questions about her time at our charity and the many, many animals she has cared for.


Q. 20 years is an absolutely fantastic achievement, congratulations! Tell us how you got here?

I started out as a general volunteer at Abbey street when I was still in school at just 16. I used to help out on the weekends, doing wherever was needed - cleaning, feeding, you name it! I couldn't wait for the next Saturday to roll around! When I left school, I was offered a full-time apprentice role working at the centre whilst studying for an Animal Care Level 2 qualification. Believe it or not I was paid just £40 a week for this, but I didn't care as I was living the dream. During my apprenticeship I applied for an Animal Care Assistant role and, to my delight, was successful in getting it. Since then, I have done numerous roles within the branch including reception, night cover and supervisor and I have been in my current role as Animal Care Manager for approximately 9 years now.

Q. What is a typical working day like for you? 

My role is very varied and you never know what is going to pop up and surprise you from one day to the next so you have to be ready for anything. I oversee all the animals in the centre and foster homes and make sure their welfare needs are met. I manage a fantastic team of people and it's my job to ensure they are happy and know what needs to be done form day to day. I ensure we operate safely and to a high standard of animal welfare, liaising with the inspectors in regards to intake and case animals and working alongside the vet to ensure the animals receive timely health checks and treatments. Our main focus is on rehabilitating the animals in our care and finding them loving new homes. This means observing the animals and taking into account their behaviour needs and past history and then working with them in areas they may be struggling with so they are ready to begin the next chapter of their lives. I'm very lucky to work with an alongside our amazing volunteers and fosterers and one of my goals in 2023 was to build up our volunteering team which we successfully did. There is a fair bit of admin which includes many emails and phone calls, inputting animal records, reports, invoices and helping to advertise the animals ready for adoption. I also help to organise fundraising events, work with the project planning team on building projects on site as well as anything else that may be required.

Q. What's your favourite part of the job?

Of course, the animals. I love getting to know them with all their little quirks, personalities and the things that makes them individuals. Their patience, love and resilience always has me in awe, especially when they have been through a tough time. I also love bringing together an animal with their new family - there is no better feeling than when you have made a perfect match and you just know they are going to love each other. When I get time, I also love to take photos of the animals for their online profiles. 

Q. What changes to animal welfare have you seen at Abbey Street over the past 20 years?

Over the years I have seen so much improvement to our site in general and upgrades to all the animal accommodation. The biggest change was our lovely rabbit house.  
This has been lovely to see and ensures the animals have the best possible stay whilst they are with us. I'm so proud of what we have achieved and we still have lots of exciting plans for the future so watch this space. 

Q. What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in animal rescue?

Go for it, If you are passionate about animals you will never regret it. I would say, get yourself into a volunteering role this will help you build up as much knowledge and work experience as you can. Work as hard as you can, listen and learn from those who have been in the role for a long time and don't be afraid to try new things and ask questions. Don't worry if you haven't got fancy qualifications, sure they help, but passion and dedication go a long way in the animal world. Lastly, don't be put off by the bad days. In rescue there will undoubtedly be some very tough days both physically and emotionally, but the longer you are in the role, the more resilient you become. Though your heart may sometimes feel heavy, with a good team to help support you, you can get through anything. 

Q. Is there a particular animal who stole your heart or who has really stuck with you over the years?

Gosh, just one? I've got many animal memories stuck to my heart but one that I think of often is a little ginger and white Jack Russel called Spot. Spot was a small lad but had a big personality. He came into the centre after his owner was thinking of having him put to sleep due to his temperament. As soon as I met him, I warmed to this zesty little lad, but after seeing how difficult he was to manage in kennels I decided to try him on foster. I had Spot with me for several months and worked with him on his challenging behaviours. After understanding him more, I realised that a lot of his behaviour was a reaction to underlying anxieties, such as a fear of the dark, and bad experiences he had had in his previous home. Spot turned out to be the perfect little gentleman and he was an absolute pleasure to be around. Whilst still zesty, he was now happy and easy to manage. He got adopted and his new family said he was the missing piece of their puzzle. 

Q. And finally, how many animals have you adopted and fostered over the years?

Over my 20 years of working at RSPCA Derby I have adopted... 4 dogs, 7 rabbits, 6 birds, 1 degu, 2 rats, 2 hamsters, 4 African Soft Furs, 2 gerbils, 6 Guinea pigs, 38 fish and 31 mice! I have fostered over 100 animals too!