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Week 13 - Wood Green

on 16/04/2015

Some would say that 13 is unlucky, but not for me. A friend of mine text me over the weekend "Have a fabulous time this week Paul! xx." I of course instantly text back replying "Hey! Are you sure that was for me?." Within seconds I received a response. "Yes silly it was for you. Have a great week at Wood Green O'grady." Cheeky so and so's! I know I love animals but I'm not quite that old yet, haha.

So yes, this week I am caring for animals again, not bad for the unlucky 13th charity.

The wonderful Wood Green is situated just a stones throw from Cambridge in Godmanchester. Nestled into the countryside they have ample land for the huge range of animals that they keep on site. From Dogs and Cats to chicken, ferrets and even an alpaca, they are the modern day Noah's arc of re-homing.

The first thing that struck me on arrival to the charity was the giant wind turbine right next to the site. There really is no missing this beast of an energy generator and it must stand at least 200ft tall. It must have set them back a pretty penny, but considering the amount of land (50 acres) they have the sheer amount of animals that need looking after, long term it makes perfect sense.

My week began in the cat department. I love cats just as much as I love dogs but I must admit when I had a 3 week old baby kitten thrust into my hands just hours upon arrival for a feed, my allegiance, be it temporary, shifted. Animals, big or small are wondrous creatures that give us so much love and want for nothing in return.

Yet it both baffles and disgusts me that anyone could harm and abuse any living creature. After feeding the kittens and them falling into a soft slumber in my very hands, I headed over to the isolation unit. This unit has been specifically set up by Wood Green for it's cats who's needs are more demanding or specialist than the others.

Molly, a wonderful little tabby was my first introduction and had been mistreated at her previous home. As a result, she had become very reserved and nervous, acting out whenever affection was shown. I spent a little time getting to know her and her other friends in the unit before heading back out to special care. This unit is for cats that have infectious diseases that need to be quarantined. Wood Green actually have their own vet building on site and these little ones were waiting to be seen by the on site vet.

I then got a wonderful tour of the site. Wood Green doesn't open on Mondays because they try and give some rest bite to the animals after a busy weekend. Unfortunately a lot of people treat it like a Zoo and pop up over the weekends for a day out. Now, whereas I'm not condemning the footfall and the money people spend whilst at Wood Green, they also have to remember that by having hundreds of people through the doors can really stress out the animals. Especially, when people come and bang on the cages the cats are living in. So I would urge people to visit, but politely suggest not to be so forward with the animals on site.

However, luckily, today was pretty quiet so I had a little bit of a private tour. They have a wonderful range of cats from Moggy's through to Bengals and everything in-between. The level of care at Wood Green is truly astounding. The onsite vet visited the small vet suite in the cat department to give every single feline a thorough check over and all required jabs.

After having a few more cuddles I left the charity for the evening, ready for my big day tomorrow in surgery.

Now I'm pretty squeamish. I can't really watch blood and gore on TV and the thought, of putting a needle in my arm ,freaks me out beyond belief. Weird, I know considering my surgery, maybe it's a learned fear. But suffice to say, I was apprehensive at best about my day in surgery on Tuesday.

I arrived on site at 8.30am sharp and was taken through to get kitted up. I've never worn scrubs before and it was a pretty 'cool' feeling to be honest. Maybe it's a level of self-importance, but when you put those garments on, you know you are there to save somebodies life. I always remember being in the fashion industry using the phrase "but were not saving lives here" and it was so true. No matter how many blue jumpers you did or did not sell, it really was not a life or death situation; but this was. I headed into a room where any tiny mistake could cost a precious life. So understandably, I was anxious, but incredibly excited at the same time. I also decided that I would live tweet my journey through surgery using the #LiveAtAnimalSurgery and from what I hear it went down a storm!

The surgery is a new building that was built of the back of one legacy donation. What an amazing person. It was state of the art and had everything the team could possibly need. From a main operating suite to an x-ray department and dentistry to a recovery bay with build in automatic heat isolation tanks to aid recovery. It's truly marvellous.

Our first operation was a cat castration. Now, I must admit this did make me a little bit squeamish. I did also feel my private parts tingle in anxiety. Eek, what a thing to watch, but at least I was plunged in at the deep end; no better way to learn!

From then we looked at a rabbits teeth who were deformed, another castration, pulled out a cats broken tooth and gave a face peel to a Husky. What amazed me even more was that no expense was spared. Whatever the animal in question needed was given. Because Wood Green doesn't outsource their veterinary needs, they can keep the costs down and do everything in house; thanks to the incredible donation. I saw care that, quite frankly, would be hard to rival. And that is a true testament to the charity in itself. So if you want to know where your donations go when you give to Wood Green, right here. Saving lives.

I don't think I'll ever get the chance to put on some scrubs and witness what I did today and it really is a memory I will cherish for life. I was inspired, humbled and in awe of what not only the staff did, but what the charity allowed me to see. I would of course never compare each charity and say what my best day was, but this may be up there at the top!

It's so refreshing to see that Wood Green has embraced every avenue to generate media, publicity and donations. This new wave thinking could not have been more apparent than on Wednesday when they handed over their whole social media network to me. Little ol' me facebooking to 50,000 followers!

With a collective 65,000 followers across Facebook and Twitter, I didn't just want to post random content. So armed with my new camera, video editing software and a crazy idea, I set to work. As they say a picture says a thousands words, so I've attached the full video of the content I posted on the day below. I pretty much ran around like a lunatic and had as much fun as I could, whilst delivering key messages!

After being totally knackered from the day I finished up by helping out on the farm with the chickens, goats and even donkeys. I must admit I've never really seen the appeal of these creatures before and indeed the sheer love for the Donkey Sanctuary. But after meeting two wonderful Donkey's myself, I can now understand why they are so successful. After getting a little mucky I headed back to the hotel, ready for an early start.

My last day saw me with the community engagement team; an education division of the charity. It's great to see a charity really giving back to the community by employing people to go out and educate children. We were at a fire station just outside Cambridge with a load of other stalls, giving 15-minute presentations about their chosen topic. Today, we were talking about being safe around dogs. The kids were really engaged and loved it!

I had a wonderful week with the charity and almost didn't leave. However, next week I am with another animal charity, yay! Cuan Wildlife Rescue.

Luke Cameron

Author: Luke Cameron

Good deed enthusiast Luke Cameron has the Nicest Job in Britain. Follow his journey as he travels the country helping a different charity each week.