A PASSIONATE animal lover has neen named the Best Newcomer in veterinary charity PDSA’s national volunteer of the year awards.

Carl Riley, aged 21, from Castlefields in Runcorn, beat off stiff competition to win the coveted title.

Even though he only started volunteering five months ago, he quickly made his mark at the PDSA furniture and electrical charity shop in Widnes Road, which raises vital funds for sick and injured pets.

Animal lover Carl, who shares his home with with three dogs, seven cats, one hamster and a lizard, said: “I’m so pleased and very surprised to have won this award.

“I really enjoy helping out at the PDSA store, and especially enjoy advising customers on their purchases.

“I love volunteering for PDSA as I get to support a worthwhile cause and make a difference, while learning new skills which is helping me work towards gaining qualifications, such as my NVQ in retail.

“I would say to anyone and everyone go for it and volunteer, you will never look back. I certainly haven’t!”

PDSA’s director of human and corporate resources, Karen Hailes, said: “Carl’s dedication to PDSA is phenomenal. The judges were really impressed with how much he has done in such a short time.

“He is an extremely dedicated volunteer and he often goes above and beyond the call of duty and takes on all tasks with enthusiasm. Carl is a great support to Widnes PDSA store and we’re extremely lucky to have him.

“He gives so much of his time to PDSA, volunteering for 30 hours each week. Carl thoroughly deserves his award. Well done!”

PDSA, which provides free veterinary treatment to the sick and injured pets of people in need, has over 5,200 volunteers helping in its charity shops, pet hospitals and fundraising group across the country.

To join PDSA’s volunteering team and find out more about helping pets in need, contact the National Volunteering Centre on freephone 0800 854 194 or visit www.pdsa.org.uk/volunteering The PDSA Volunteer Awards are now in their tenth year and are supported by Volunteering England and Pets at Home.