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'Inspirational' West Norfolk RSPCA volunteer helped raise £1.5 million for charity

'Inspirational' West Norfolk RSPCA volunteer helped raise £1.5 million for charity

Published by Grace Mcgachy
2:18pm 28th January 2020.

An inspirational West Norfolk  RSPCA volunteer has celebrated her 90th birthday this month.

And Marie Hayes even went to work at the local charity shop on her special day.

RSPCA members say the great grandmother of two has been instrumental in raising a staggering 1,554,902.55 during her 37 years as a volunteer for the charity.

90 year old rspca west norfolk volunteer marie hayes

Great grandmother Marie, from Terrington St Clement, started volunteering for the RSPCA back in 1983 where she would hold autumn fairs, bazaars, bingos and jumble sales in aid of the local branch.

It was always her dream to open a charity shop and she made it come true when the branch opened the shop in Norfolk Street,  King's Lynn 28 years ago and Marie has volunteered there ever since.

The money she has raised over the years helped to build the branch's state of the art Eau Brink Rehoming Centre in West Norfolk, which cost £1.5million.

Marie was awarded an MBE in 2005 for her services to the RSPCA and she wrote a book in 2008 called The Animals in My Life and the proceeds from this raised £4,000 for the charity.

She would also campaign or launch petitions against animal injustices and would often write letters to newspapers, politicians and world governments.

Marie, who's family now consists of 32 members, recently celebrated her 70th wedding anniversary with husband Charlie - who also volunteers for the RSPCA.

Marie still works four days a week at the charity shop as a "volunteer supervisor" alongside 20 other volunteers at the shop.

90 year old rspca west norfolk volunteer marie hayes


When she does have any free time she still spends it organising fundraising events and even visiting former volunteers to keep them company after their retirement.

She said:

"I have always loved animals since I was a tiny girl and we used to have a very nice RSPCA inspector live near us and I always admired his work.

When my children became older I just started to fundraise for the RSPCA holding autumn fayres in my garden - and it just grew from there.

I have always wanted to help animals and we've had so many over the years - but now we just have some chickens as we are getting older and I also  just can't bear the heart-ache of when you lose an animal.

The RSPCA is just wonderful and as long as I can keep fundraising for them, I will.

The money raised is now at almost £1.6 million  and I aim to reach the £2 million mark before I retire.

As long as my arms, legs and head keep going then I will keep on with the fundraising.

It really is a pleasurable thing to do and it just keeps you going every day as you just have to get up and get on with it - my family motto is' stick it and grin and never give in' ."

Tim Arthur, Treasurer and President RSPCA Norfolk West, said:

"Marie is a unique woman and her service to animals and the RSPCA over her lifetime has been truly extraordinary and inspirational.

She wrote a book many years ago, detailing her experiences on the King's Lynn animal markets, as she fought tirelessly for animal welfare. She received her MBE for her work in promoting kindness to animals.

She has managed the King's Lynn shop for 28 years. Our state of the art Rehoming Centre, which cost £1.5 million to create, has effectively been built on Marie's achievements. It  benefit the 500 animals which we re-home every year. "


The branch, which is a separately registered charity to the national RSPCA, and rehoming centre is run by Penny Skate, Branch chair & voluntary manager, eight members of staff and an array of amazing volunteers.

 "Marie is truly an inspiration and it is hard to put into words how much she has done for the RSPCA.

Her dedication and commitment has helped the lives of thousands of animals in West Norfolk over the years.

We are so thankful to have such a wonderful supporter and friend."