Sylvia Sigfusdottir, 22, from Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, has been awarded the Cinnamon Trust Young Volunteer of the Year award at the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts on Saturday 7th March.
Sylvia has been volunteering for the Cinnamon Trust, the national charity for the elderly, the terminally ill and the sick, since she was 18 years old because she wanted to contribute her spare time to looking after dogs and helping their owners. She has spent the past four years walking many dogs, with three of those dedicated to a dog called Missy and her owner Anita.
Throughout their time together, Sylvia has seen Missy progress from being so nervous around other dogs that she couldn’t be on the same side of the road as them, to now being able to walk past them without any reaction. The bond between the two is clear and Sylvia credits their walks for being filled with trust, comfort, joy and excitement.
Sylvia has proved invaluable to both Missy and Anita, and her presence has been vital for Anita being able to still have Missy around. Sylvia spends the majority of her free time away from university with the pair, and recognises the positive impact that walking with Missy has had.
Speaking about her win, Sylvia said: “Volunteering for The Cinnamon Trust has been exceptionally valuable, not only because I am getting to help a dog and their owner stay happily together, but also because I am using my time valuably by exercising and making new friends.
“Anita is no longer just a stranger whose dog I walk, nor is Missy just a random dog – they are both companions that I truly couldn’t imagine my life without.”
In conjunction with the Young Kennel Club, the Cinnamon Trust encourages young people who love dogs, to help older people who also love dogs but are unable to fully care for their canine companion themselves. It’s a win-win-win situation – the dog wins as they get a fun walk and stay healthy, the owner wins as they get peace of mind with a happy dog, and the young volunteer wins as they make new friends and gain a great sense of pride.