David Orr, with dog Hope, has been recognised as one of SPCA’s top volunteers. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Giving back to furry friends


A “human dynamo” with a difficult past has been acknowledged as one of SPCA’s top volunteers.

Nelson man David Orr was named national winner of the Going the Extra Mile Award in the 2020 SPCA Purina Volunteer Awards, which marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week.

Nelson SPCA Op Shop manager Aine Byrne, who nominated David, says he is an exceptional worker who spreads good cheer and creates a lovely atmosphere.

“He sets an example of the power of positive thinking for the rest of us,” says Aine.

“David has overcome an extremely difficult past and battles daily with the crippling pain of arthritis. He never lets it get him down and just keeps on going.

“The challenges he faces would defeat even the best of us, but he just keeps on keeping on.”

David stops at the Vanguard St shop every day, even if he is not rostered on, just to check in and see if the team need a hand.

Despite having to go home for stints to let his body rest, he comes back to help with the closing of the shop and any heavy lifting.

“I enjoy it, it’s just my way of contributing for the animals. SPCA have helped me with my dog, and when I was desperate for food they always help,” says David.

He says his own dog Hope has been a lifeline for him, so it makes sense to give back to the animals in any way he can.

“Once I got the arthritis I was just sitting at home, I didn’t want to go back to alcohol so she’s taught me how to walk with her, taught me responsibility, patience and discipline, and she gets me out.”

David says he doesn’t believe half of the good things the team says about him, saying simply “if it needs doing, just do it”.

“I was blown away when I found out, I don’t know how or why or what I’ve done to deserve it, but it’s fantastic, a real surprise.”

But Aine insists that David deserves the recognition for his hard work.

“He is a human dynamo and never stops moving. His positive attitude and kindness of spirit radiate through all of his interactions with others and we are truly inspired by him.”

David’s prize included a year’s supply of dog food, a $300 grocery hamper and a coffee machine.

Learn more about volunteering at SPCA here.