John & Paula - owners of Sunnyfields

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Thank you all so much for your kindness in looking after our little Rosie we appreciate everything. Thank you again so much.

Carol, Bonnie, Jacey and Eve.

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About PDSA

As part of Sunnyfields commitment to helping charitable causes we support the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) clients.

To achieve this we reduce our cremation prices for clients of the PDSA so cremation becomes affordable.

PDSA History

Many charities attribute their existence to inspired individuals with a burning ambition to bring about change.

PDSA owes its foundation to the vision of one woman - Maria Elisabeth Dickin - and her determination to raise the status of animals, and their standard of their care, in society.

Maria Dickin

Maria Dickin, founder of PDSA, opened her free 'dispensary' for sick and injured animals in a Whitechapel basement on Saturday 17 November 1917 while the world was still in the grip of the First World War.

Who was Maria Dickin

Maria Dickin (Mia to her friends) was born in London in 1870. She was the daughter of a Free Church minister and the eldest of eight children.

Maria was a bright, confident and independent-minded young woman who was never afraid to voice her beliefs. Driven by the zeal of her spiritualist faith and a determination to contribute to the family's meagre income, Maria decided to take a job. Women of her class in 1890's Britain were not expected to work but she ignored convention and opened a successful voice production studio in Wimpole Street, which attracted the patronage of famous singers of the day, including Clara Butt.

At the age of 28, Maria married her first cousin, Arnold Dickin. Arnold was an ambitious chartered accountant and, as his wife, Maria was encouraged to give up her work in order to look after the household. Intelligent, witty and supportive, she possessed and exercised all the social graces of a society wife. At the couple's home in Hampstead Heath, dinner guests would often include high profile personalities from the world of commerce, politics and the legal profession. However, giving up work left a gap in Maria's life.

Why did she create PDSA?

In need of fulfillment, Maria launched herself into social work. Visiting the poor of London's East End she was horrified by the dire poverty she witnessed, but it was the sight of animals suffering in silence that she found unbearable. In the streets dogs and cats, raw with mange and often dragging broken limbs, scavenged from the gutters.

Animals, such as goats and rabbits, huddled sick and injured in back yards. The horses and donkeys of costermongers and coal hawkers often worked lame and crippled by heavy loads.

Maria's sheltered Victorian upbringing simply had not prepared her for what she encountered in the homes of the poor and later, in her book, The Cry of the Animal she recalled the scene:

'The suffering and misery of these poor, uncared-for creatures in our overcrowded areas was a revelation to me. I had no idea it existed, and it made me indescribably miserable.'

Why was there a need for PDSA?

During the First World War, Maria Dickin CBE worked to improve the dreadful state of animal health in the Whitechapel area of London. She wanted to open a clinic where East Enders living in poverty could receive free treatment for their sick and injured animals.

Despite the scepticism of the establishment, Maria Dickin opened her free 'dispensary' in a Whitechapel basement on Saturday 17th November 1917. It was an immediate success and she was soon forced to find larger premises.

Within six years this extraordinary woman had designed and equipped her first horse-drawn clinic and soon a fleet of mobile dispensaries was established. PDSA vehicles soon became a comforting and familiar sight throughout the country.

Why was PDSA seen as a threat?

With success came increased attention from critics at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Ministry of Agriculture. By providing free treatment for animals belonging to the poor, attracting charitable support and by training her own practitioners Maria Dickin was seen as a threat to the establishment. In 1937 she was forced to defend PDSA in a letter to the Royal College:

'If you are so concerned about proper treatment of the sick animals of the poor, open your own dispensaries…Show owners how to care for their animals in sickness and health. Do the same work that we are doing. Instead of spending your energy and time hindering us, spend it dealing with this mass misery.'

An agreement was finally made with the veterinary profession allowing PDSA to continue its work although its role was to be defined by two Acts of Parliament (1949 and 1956). The Acts continue to govern the charity's activities today.

PDSA today

This year PDSA will provide more than 2.4 million free treatments to sick and injured pets and more than 360,000 preventive treatments.

Our services are run by the hard-working vets and nurses at our PetAid hospitals and will cost more than £59 million to provide.

This is funded entirely by public support so a huge thank you is due to our many donors, customers and volunteers, who ensure PDSA is here to provide a healthy life for all our pets.

Ilford Animal Cemetery

The PDSA Animal Cemetery in Ilford, Essex is the final resting place for 12 recipients of the PDSA Dickin Medal the animals' Victoria Cross awarded for bravery during World War II. In 2006, thanks to a grant from The People's Millions project, the cemetery and the headstones of the animal war heroes underwent a sympathetic restoration.

Why is the cemetery so important to PDSA?

The Cemetery dates from the 1920s and is tucked away in a quiet spot behind Ilford PDSA PetAid branch.

A grant from The People's Millions project, administered by The Big Lottery Fund, enabled PDSA to renovate the Cemetery and improve access to the site in 2007. Many of the animals' graves were restored and new headstones were erected for the hero animals where needed.

The project included the creation of a new visitors' centre and a Garden of Remembrance, designed by Bob Flowerdew of BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time.

The Garden offers a place of quiet contemplation for animal lovers. It was designed to reflect the colours of the PDSA Dickin Medal ribbon - green, brown and pale blue to symbolise the sea, land and air forces. It includes a memorial stone bearing the inscription "Love's final gift - Remembrance" as well as a specially-commissioned bench donated by the Amalgamation of Racing Pigeons.

Can you help?

The Cemetery and Garden are tended by a dedicated team of volunteers. Anyone wishing to offer their help to the charity should contact PDSA's National Volunteering Centre on freephone 0800 854 194.

Read the amazing stories of just four of the PDSA Dickin Medal holders buried at the Cemetery below.

The PDSA Animal Cemetery can be found at Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge, Ilford, Essex, IG4 5PS.

If you would like a guided tour of the cemetery please contact Gill Hubbard on 01952 290999 to arrange a suitable date.

Peter DM

Search and Rescue dog, Peter, came with a bad reputation for fighting other dogs and destroying his owner's belongings. However, his service during World War II was outstanding and he became a reformed character. His PDSA Dickin Medal citation reads:
For locating victims trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with MAP (Ministry of Aircraft Production) attached to Civil Defence of London.

The information he gave to his handler resulted in the saving of many lives and he was singled out for special attention at the Civil Defence Stand-Down parade in Hyde Park before the King and Queen and Princess Elizabeth in 1946.

Rip DM

Rip the dog was found homeless and starving after a bombing raid in 1940 when he became the mascot of the Southill Street Air Raid Patrol in Poplar, East London. During heavy gunfire and bombing raids, Rip was always on duty, never getting in the way, but working quickly to sniff out casualties. He had over five years' active service to his credit, and his PDSA Dickin Medal citation reads:
For locating many air-raid victims during the blitz of 1940.

Simon DM

Able Seacat Simon was posthumously awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal in 1949 for his service on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident. Despite being injured by a shell blast that killed 17 men, including the ship's Captain, Simon bravely continued to catch the rats that were stealing the crew's meagre rations while the ship was held captive on the river. On returning home, Simon's exploits made him a celebrity - he even received his own fan mail!

Simon was buried in the cemetery with full Naval honours, his coffin draped in a Union Flag.

Tich DM

Tich the dog was adopted by Rifleman Thomas Walker of 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps before El Alamein and serviced in North Africa and Italy until the end of WWII. Tich accompanied Walker on the front line all through the fighting in Italy, riding on the Bren gun carrier or on the bonnet of a jeep. Tich was severely wounded several times but always refused to leave her post even when under heavy fire.