AN animal organisation is leading the pack in an annual awards event with several nominations for its hard-working staff members.

The National Animal Welfare Trust, in The Street, Little Clacton, is in with a chance of winning seven awards at this year’s Petplan and ADCH Animal Charity Awards.

The awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the dedication of vital animal organisations and their employees across the country.

The prestigious ceremony is split into three categories, including Team of the Year, Employee of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.

This year, the Clacton branch of the National Animal Welfare Trust, which opened back in 1984, has at least one contender in every available category.

Beverly Cook, 71, has been volunteering with the trust for the past four years and is one of the charity’s six animal lovers in with a chance of taking home a gong.

She said: “I was gobsmacked to be nominated and I was quite emotional.

“I wanted to be involved in helping the dogs at the rescue centre in whatever way possible, but over the years it has become so much more than that.

“I free up the staff so they can spend as much time as possible with the dogs, helping them settle and enriching their time here and getting them ready for a home.”

Stacey Sheppard, 28, who is an animal care assistant and has worked within the kennels for the past five years, could be crowned Employee of the Year. She said: “I am very fortunate to wake up each morning to a job I love.

“In the last five years I’ve learnt not only more about dogs, but also more about myself.

“The real reward is changing the lives of dogs in need, so receiving this nomination is the icing on the cake.”

In addition to the potential individual accolades, the entire workforce at the trust is also in the running for the sought-after Team of the Year award. Manager Lizzie Reffell believes the nomination is testament to the level of passion all of her staff have for revitalising and caring for the animals they rescue.

“We are thrilled to be amongst those nominated for this award,” she said.

“Everyone here is passionate about the dogs and cats in our care.

“Their physical, mental and emotional well-being are our top priority.

“We want to ensure they all have the best experience whilst they are here and that we find them the best possible forever home and family.”

The trust’s other hopefuls include volunteer Matthew Eden, 20, animal care assistants Lisa Hiskey, 42, and Laura Howard, 27, and receptionist Jo Thorne, 51.

The contenders in each category will be whittled down to three finalists in March before the winners are announced on May 6.