Volunteering for Animals in Need

Posted 31st July 2023

With charities having to work harder than ever to bring in the cash, they are resorting to more extreme ways of raising it. Swimming with sharks? It’s not for everyone, but AIN’s Annie Marriott loved it, as she told Pulse’s Sammy Jones…

The vast majority of us will have given to charity at some point; popped a few pennies or pounds in the collection box rattled under our noses, or donated online in memory of a loved one’s preferred cause.

But with the cost of living crisis, people’s disposable income has disappeared. We’ve written about it before; charities who rely on the generosity of the public to keep going are struggling.

People don’t have spare cash to put about.

Animals in Need knows that only too well: “Funds are coming in at an all time low and the animals are coming in at an all time high,” Annie Marriott says with a sigh, “We need all the help we can get. We could not carry on saving animals in need without everyone’s help. It’s becoming increasingly difficult and as more people hand over their animals to us, the problems exacerbate.

“This week we have had five abandoned rabbits in, a stray turtle, a snake and a parrot. That’s not to mention dozens of wildlife casualties, some very poorly cats and way too many unwanted dogs.”

But Annie and the team, and some incredibly keen supporters, will do whatever they can to bring in the bucks. And we mean anything!

Annie suffers with thalassophobia, or we should say she used to. So how else to get over her intense phobia of deep water than by doing a sponsored swim with sharks. And nope, she wasn’t in a cage!

“I was so scared of water that I couldn’t even go into the sea without screaming – I freaked out when a piece of seaweed touched me one day, and I knew I had to get to grips with the phobia.

“Swimming with sharks was an amazing way to do it. It was so much better to be deep in the water swimming with the sharks – they are such beautiful creatures.

“We had to dive down and kneel on the ocean floor keeping our arms close to our bodies and then they would swim by us. It was an incredible experience, and so peaceful – I was more scared of losing my regulator down there than I was about anything else. In the ocean I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the turtles, huge lobsters, stingrays, sharks and so many tropical fish.”

That trip to Stuart’s Cove in the Bahamas to swim with the White Tip Reef Sharks (who average five to seven feet in length) raised a fin-tastic five thousand pounds for the charity in Little Irchester.

Better still, the diving school taught Annie to dive and took her out for free because it was a charity venture.

It’s just one of many bonkers and barmy challenges she has undertaken.

“I’ve lost count of the amount of things I’ve done, to be honest,” she says, “I’ve shaved my head twice, completed three skydives, done a mountain climb, fire walked, glass walked, been on sponsored walks and a colour run,” she pauses for breath, “Oh, and I did the South Coast challenge in Brighton which was awful,” she cringes, “That was the worst challenge ever!”

But no sooner has Annie completed one hair-raising (or hair shaving) challenge than she is looking to the next.

“There’s nothing that I wouldn’t try,” says the fearless lady, “I’d love to do the Inca Trail in Peru and a bungee jump, but I would want to do a proper big one and I think the best one in the world is in New Zealand!” Now we’re cringing!

“I am always open to people’s suggestions, but I would be rubbish at a sponsored silence because I never stop talking!”

‘Volunteers like Sam are part of the fabric’

“This is Sam, who works in our kennels every week. She’s always in by 7.30am and the role is not at all glamorous – it involves feeding and mucking out 67 dogs.

Volunteers like Sam are part of the fabric of Animals in Need,” Annie said, “She wasn’t a fan of abseiling though, and has never forgiven me for talking her into abseiling down the National Lift Tower in Northampton,” she laughed, “I loved it, you get such a fab view of the rugby ground at Franklin’s Gardens as you are descending!”

Caring Sam is another dedicated AIN supporter who takes her ‘work’ home with her – she has adopted two of the pups who wound up at the rescue centre.

‘Life is about challenging yourself sometimes…’

“I became aware of Animals in Need through my work as a Police Officer within Northants – they regularly attend incidents on the roads involving wildlife and are often a first port of call,” said Mel Carter, “I decided to raise money for them initially in 2017 when I did a skydive, raising £638.

“In 2019 I spoke with a colleague in our force control room and we decided to abseil down the Lift Tower in Northampton. Being scared of heights, this was a mission but we did it and I managed to raise £855 for the rescue centre from that.

“Annie, Roy and all the team work incredibly hard 24/7 to rescue, release and rehome the animals – the world needs more people like them. Annie has taken in both a Husky dog and a terrapin that I’ve seized from inhumane conditions whilst at work without hesitation – she’s amazing.

“Life is about challenging yourself sometimes, and facing my fears to raise money for AIN is a tiny price to pay if it helps them to keep doing the work they relentlessly do,” Mel added, “We’ve also been fortunate enough to rehome four guinea pigs, a cat and a dog from them – you get what you give!

“I’d encourage everyone to consider fundraising, it’s hugely rewarding and makes such a difference to rescue centres like Animals In Need which rely on donations. Keep up the amazing work Annie, Roy and team!”

How you can help…

Would you like to support Animals in Need by doing something to help swell the coffers?
Annie has compiled a list of possibilities to get you started – some more sweat-inducing than others!

  • Sign up for a marathon
  • Put your trainers on and go out on a 10K run
  • Throw yourself from a plane – do a skydiveGo abseiling
  • Feel the heat with a fire walk
  • Perhaps you work somewhere you could hold an open day
  • Host a dog show
  • Clear the clutter and raise money with a car boot sale

Don’t miss the open day

Animals in Need will be hosting an open day on Sunday, September 10 – a chance for you to pop along and meet the staff, volunteers and some of the animals currently being cared for there.

The event will run between midday and 4pm and you can try your luck at the raffle and tombola, enjoy refreshments, crafts and bric-a-brac. Entry is £2 – a small amount, but if enough of us donate it can make a big difference to the furry and feathered residents!

> For more details visit animals-in-need.org