Animal welfare campaigner and founder of the Rainbow Rehoming Centre in Eglinton, Helen Davies, is among those included in the New Year Honours List.
The Limavady Road woman has been given a BEM for services to Animal Welfare in Northern Ireland through the Rainbow Centre, Eglinton, Londonderry.
Unlike others who only found out about their New year gongs a couple of weeks ago, Helen knew a year and a half ago that her name had been put forward. She was nominated by Rainbow finance officer Colm Murphy and was supported with references from two members of the North West Animal Welfare Group, as well as Lord William Hay.
“I had been away on holiday at the end of November and when I came home there was a pile of letters in the hall and I just thought they were all things like credit card or bank statements and the like,” she said.
“So I gathered them up and left them for a day while I got one with the unpacking. I saw one with Horse Guards Parade on it and I read it and it was just to say that I had been nominated.
“I’m really delighted and I just hope that it puts the spotlight on animal rescuers in Northern Ireland. So many people own a part of this because they do so much work in their own time and for me it really is a nod from the establishment that there a large number of rescuers out there and they are doing a lot of good work,” she said.
“It is nice to be nominated and it is nice that somebody thinks you are worth nominating and you are respected for that,” she said.
Prior to her 19 years at the holm of Rainbow Rehoming Helen operated an adoption system for animals and now that she has retired she still keeps a hand in and is in contact with Rainbow staff.
She has two dogs and five cats of her own to keep her busy, too.
Reflecting on her years with Rainbow, she said: “Over the years we have rescued and re-homed hundreds and hundreds of animals. It is unbelievable the numbers of dogs and cats that have gone through that centre and all the effort that goes into finding them a good home.
“Anybody can re-home an animal but getting an animal a good home is hard work. No matter how we work there are dogs that come back in because circumstances have changed and you have to start over again. We always did home checks, got the animals neutered, microchipped and de-fleaed and vaccinated.
“It is a hard road and it is not getting any easier. I want to thank those who nominated and supported my nomination for this. A lot of people backed it and it is nice to think that people have faith in you and respect for what you do.”