Cinnamon Trust is a lifeline for the sick and elderly

Dog walking volunteers for the Cinnamon Trust meeting the Mayor Shirley Weymouth at the town hall in

Dog walking volunteers for the Cinnamon Trust meeting the Mayor Shirley Weymouth at the town hall in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

When faced with illness the stresses of looking after a beloved pet can become an overwhelming burden.

Monica Carter, Patricia Wood, Anne Nahodic and Moss the dog. Photo: George Ryan

Monica Carter, Patricia Wood, Anne Nahodic and Moss the dog. Photo: George Ryan - Credit: Archant

A spell in hospital can cause great anxiety with worries about who will take care of your animal while you are away.

That is where the Cinnamon Trust, a national charity for the elderly, the terminally ill and their pets, can step in to help on a short-term or long-term basis.

Founded in 1985 by Averil Jarvis, and named after her corgi, Cinnamon, the Cornwall-based charity helps people to look after their pets, as well as ensuring the pets stay with their owners.

The trust provides a fostering service for when a pet's owner is in hospital; they can walk dogs and also provide support on a short or long-term basis.

But the charity is not restricted to offering help to people with cats and dogs; volunteers have also cleaned out rabbit hutches and bird cages, as well as going out to buy pet food if the owner is unable to through illness.

The organisation is one of the chosen charities of Great Yarmouth Mayor Shirley Weymouth – who has owned dogs over the years. And she understands the importance of a pet in people's lives.

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'If someone who is ill did not have the volunteers walking their dog, they might feel they could not have a dog, but animals are very important to people if they haven't got anyone else,' she explained.

But the charity offers much more than a dog-walking, pet-sitting service, added Mrs Weymouth.

'If someone is coming towards the end of their life, the charity will look to find the pet a new home so that terminally ill person has that reassurance the pet will be well looked after.'

Last week, Mrs Weymouth invited local Trust volunteers to tea and cakes in the Mayor's Parlour at the Town Hall as a thank you for what they do in the community.

And for many, it was the first time the volunteers had met face to face.

One of the volunteers is the well known Dusty Miller, 80, of Gorleston. She said: 'This is a wonderful charity that deserves to be recognised.'

The volunteer chaplain at the James Paget Hospital, added: 'Loss is bereavement and bereavement is loss. If someone has to give up their pet that can be very hard to deal with so that's where the trust can help owner's not have to do that.'

Jenny Baker, also of Gorleston, said it was not just a way to look after people's much-loved pets: 'It is about contact and that social side.'

Stephen Lavan, 60, of Caister, agreed: 'If you are disabled in a way where you cannot look after a pet on your own that can feel very isolating.'

And Stephen's wife, Lorraine, 58, added: 'Others have said having a pet is the only reason they have to keep going.'

Mr Lavan explained there was no pressure on the volunteers. 'You can decide how often you would like to do it and even what particular type of dog you'd like to walk. It is very flexible.'

The organisation is looking for volunteers in the area as they are struggling to keep up with demand at the moment.

To find out more about volunteering call 01736 757 900 or email

'They are angels'

The Cinnamon Trust also helps people with working dogs, such as guide dogs or hearing dogs.

When a working dog is with its owner, it is constantly alert and looking out for them. Just like people, animals need rest from work - and their owner, and the trust provides that with volunteers.

Patricia Wood, 67, has a hearing dog called Moss, and she is supported by volunteers from the Trust four times a week. She also sufferes other disabilities.

Patricia of Caister, waited six years for Moss who helps with daily activities she would struggle with because of her deafness. Now, 18 months later, Patricia could not imagine life without her spaniel cross Moss.

'Before I had her, while I did go out on my own, I would be very afraid. Moss has given me a lot of confidence.'

'She helps with anything to do with timings or alarms, she can fetch my husband if I need him and she has even started to bring me my slippers.'

She laughed: 'She does get naughty though! If I'm putting socks on the drier and one falls down she'll pick it up and get a treat, but sometimes when I turn my back she'll pull it down again to get another treat!'

Cinnamon Trust volunteers Anne Nahodic of Caister, and Monica Carter of Martham, have quickly bonded with Patricia and Moss.

Anne said: 'We have got to know each other as friends,' and Monica added: 'I love walking Moss because she is an absolutely adorable dog, and it helps Patricia out.'

And the support Patricia gets from Monica and Patricia she said cannot be measured.

'When they first came I was a bit nervous, but now we are good friends. I trust them implicitly.

'They are angels and 100pc reliable. They both take Moss out whatever the weather and sometimes have come back absolutely drenched.

'I am really poorly with severe disabilities. When it was first suggested the Cinnamon Trust might help I was outraged - I didn't need any help! Now I would find it very, very difficult to live without them.

'And Moss loves them both. They are her best friends.'