We Can Do It awards 2019: Best Volunteer - Vanessa Taylor

VOLUNTEERS across the Portsmouth region are doing incredible things every day.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 4:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 4:45 pm
Vanessa Taylor receives the Best Volunteer award. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

From abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower to running for charity, people go to great lengths to do things for the benefit of other people.

But one woman this year went far beyond what could ever be expected of her, scooping the Best Volunteer prize from The News’ We Can Do It awards.

Vanessa Taylor from Paulsgrove is the woman at the helm of South Coast Rabbit Rescue – rehoming rabbits that are given up or abandoned, putting them up in her back garden.

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Harley the rabbit enjoying the tunnels in Vanessa's back garden. Picture: Sarah Standing (120919-5936)

Earlier this year, Vanessa was overwhelmed by rabbits when 45 were dumped at the side of a road near Haslemere, calling her into action.

But with a mix of male and female rabbits, this number multiplied to almost 90 by the end of the month.

Vanessa said: ‘It’s was absolutely unbelievable, the state they were left in.

‘So many of them had scratches and bruises on them, it was heartbreaking.’

Space for so many rabbits was incredibly limited, with Vanessa quickly filling her entire home with rabbit refugees.

But by working hard to rehome them, the total left from the lorry in her back garden is down to just three.

It was this dedication to not only finding these rabbits new homes, but also nursing them back to health, that won over the hearts of the judges.

On winning the award, presented at the Kings Theatre in Southsea, Vanessa said: ‘It’s absolutely nuts, I can’t believe it.

‘I really didn’t think I would win – there are so many amazing people here so I’m overwhelmed by this.’

Despite winning the award and rehoming rabbits from that rescue, Vanessa still has her work cut out each day – with 39 rabbits and 12 babies currently looking for new owners.

She is urgently calling for people to not only reconsider where they get their rabbits from, but also for prospective owners to think twice about it.

‘People get rabbits because they’re cheap,’ she said.

‘The truth is a lot of people underestimate how much work is needed to look after them.

‘But these lovely little guys desperately need a home, so any help is greatly appreciated.’