A man from West Wickham in London who has volunteered at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for 28 years has been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Laurence Ackland Smith is the charity’s longest serving volunteer, having first got involved in 1986.

The 84-year-old travels for more than an hour every week to help out by walking the dogs and providing invaluable socialisation and companionship.

Mr Ackland Smith, who was given a British Empire Medal (BEM), said: “I was absolutely amazed when I heard I’d been awarded the BEM. I volunteer because I thoroughly enjoy it.

“We were unable to have dogs as my son was allergic to them, so volunteering with Battersea has let me indulge my love of dogs.

“As long as I have the strength to, I will carry on volunteering.”

As well as his work with Battersea, Mr Ackland Smith also volunteers at the Working Horse Trust and regularly visits the Chelsea Pensioners in the Royal Hospital.

Head of operations at Battersea Carly Whyborn said: “It is the selfless generosity of people like Laurence that allows us to care for 6,000 lost, abandoned and unwanted dogs every year.

“Without Laurence and more than 1,000 others volunteering like him, we would be unable to do what we do. I am so pleased Laurence has been awarded the BEM for his tireless dedication to volunteering – he is a Battersea hero and entirely deserving of this honour.”

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