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  • Homeless man's charity walk with dog

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    A homeless man has walked more than 1,500 miles across the length and breadth of the UK to raise money for a charity very close to his heart.

    Phil Bradshaw started the journey in Southampton on July 18th 2018, walking around the south west, up to Wales, onto the Lake District, into Scotland and then back down the east coast before finishing back in his base in St Albans.

    The decision to take on this mammoth walk came after Phil’s beloved companion, Lucky, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was provided essential surgery and treatment by StreetVet, after Phil found a lump on her but couldn’t afford the operation to have it removed.

    “I was staying in a hostel when I found the lump on Lucky. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to save her because I simply didn’t have the resources to do so,” explained Phil.

    “I’ve had Lucky since she was 12 weeks old, and she’s now twelve, so I couldn’t imagine life without her. Pets are always family, but as I’m homeless, her companionship and love is everything in the world to me.

    “I was put in touch with StreetVet’s co-founder and veterinary surgeon Jade Statt. Jade came to visit us, removed Lucky’s tumour and revisited us for follow up consults, which were important for me as they gave me the much-needed reassurance that Lucky was okay. We stayed in touch and the team would pop by to see us both whenever they were in the area.

    “I was so grateful for the help that they gave us that I wanted to repay them, and raise awareness for all the good they do.

    “I have always loved hiking, so that’s when I came up with ‘The Long Walk for StreetVet’; just Lucky and I embarking on a walk across the UK, to spread the word of StreetVet. I knew it would be hard but definitely worth it.”

    Phil set off with his basic supplies and a buggy for Lucky and started the five-month journey throughout the countries and counties of the UK in warm summer weather.

    Most nights Phil and Lucky would pitch up a tent to sleep in, but they were sometimes put up in homes, guest houses and hotels by those following his journey.

    StreetVet volunteers in different areas of the UK came to visit Phil and Lucky on their walk, with some providing meals and accommodation.

    They were even supplied with dog food and provisions by Pets at Home at numerous locations, from Portishead (Avon) to Linlithgow, along the way.

    And, because StreetVet and Vets4Pets have a partnership, Lucky was given regular check-ups at various Vets4Pets practices along the way.

    “The walk got really hard in some places, especially as it drew into winter, but all the different groups, communities and people I met along the way and who offered their help would really make my day and help me to keep going,” continued Phil.

    “The teams at Vets4Pets and Pets at Home were particularly great.

    “The walk was sometimes hard on Lucky with the rough terrains and adverse British weather conditions, so getting check-ups for her from the teams at Vets4Pets relieved some of my stress and worry about her.

    “I was even taken for a haircut, visited the veterinary referral centre Northwest Veterinary Specialists, and put up in a hotel by two colleagues from Vets4Pets and Pets at Home, Cat Curtis and Vicky Hill.

    Karen Williams, marketing director, at Vets4Pets, said: “StreetVet is a fantastic organisation doing some great work with homeless people and their dogs. Their work ties in with our ethos of putting pets first and to help improve pet welfare across the UK.

    “So when we heard about Phil’s amazing walk to help such a worthy charity, we wanted to do anything we could to help make the journey easier for himself and Lucky along the way.

    “We loved having Phil and Lucky visit our stores and veterinary practices and want to congratulate them on such a fantastic achievement.”

    StreetVet was founded by Jade Statt and Sam Joseph in 2016, where it started out as an RCVS registered practice that worked hard to deliver free care and support to people and their dogs who were living rough, in order to ensure their combined wellbeing.

    It has since won numerous awards for its work and, as of only a few weeks ago, became a registered charity. Phil raised an amazing £5,500 to help them continue with their work.

    Jo Trow from StreetVet said: “Phil and Lucky's Long Walk for Streetvet has been a huge success. It’s a great achievement and a real testament to what a fantastic team they are, and we are unbelievably grateful for everything Phil has done over the last five months.

    “Through it all they've been an inspiration, staying focused and determined to their cause; raising money and awareness for us at StreetVet. And what a job they've done.

    “Not only has he walked hundreds of miles and braved the elements to raise money for us, but he also been constantly spreading the word about our work around the country.

    “We are pleased to say that this is not the last we will see of this pair, as Phil has more ideas up his sleeve for fundraising challenges. For now though we hope they get some rest and the whole team at StreetVet thanks them from the bottom of our hearts.”
    Phil has now temporarily settled down at the Last Chance Hotel, an animal rescue and rehoming centre in Chacewater, Cornwall, which he visited near the start of his walk. He’s volunteering at the centre to help them get fully set up and running.

    “I’m still in touch with StreetVet and want to do even more to raise money for them in the near future,” concluded Phil.

    “I want to eventually raise £20,000 for the charity, and am planning to do the London marathon and a few Tough Mudders so I can reach that goal.

    “I even plan to write a book on my amazing journey across the UK, detailing all the beautiful areas I saw and the brilliant people I met. I just hope this has helped raise awareness for what a great charity StreetVet is.”
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