AN Army veteran has tapped into the growing interest in natural, unprocessed raw dog food to launch a new business.

Russ Darlington has set up Wagging Tail, in Northallerton, after a 40-year career in the military services.

The business, which started trading in January, was recently officially opened by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, the MP for Richmond.

Mr Darlington runs the business with his wife Elli, daughter Kirsty and their “product taste testers” black Labradors Bali and Tillie.

He spent 40 years in the Royal Signals and decided to do something completely different on return to civilian life.

Assisted by the Army’s resettlement programme and a Government Start-up Loan obtained through the Royal British Legion, Mr Darlington set up Wagging Tail because he could not find anywhere to purchase raw dog food for his own family pets in his area.

A firm believer in the health benefits for dogs of raw, additive-free, unprocessed food, Mr Darlington has established the business in a spacious industrial unit on the Omega Industrial Village, just off Darlington Road, Northallerton.

The unit is packed with freezers stocking a wide range of raw dog food, bones and fish products in some cases supplemented with vegetables and superfoods like spirulina, kale, and salmon oil.

The range – which caters for cats as well as dogs – is sourced from 12 British suppliers, a number of them local to North Yorkshire and County Durham.

Mr Darlington said: “As my Army career came to an end my final posting was at Catterick and I was looking for a business idea.

“With two dogs I was having to travel out of the area to source the raw food I wanted to feed my pets and that was the inspiration for Wagging Tail.

“The Army resettlement programme was excellent in helping me with advice and practical mentoring support and we are looking to grow the business as the country emerges from pandemic restrictions.

“Our unit is spacious and lent itself to being easily made Covid-secure with a one-way system for customers.”

Mr Sunak praised Mr Darlington and his family for launching their new business during a difficult time for the economy.

He said: “Mr Darlington and his family deserve great credit for launching their business at this moment. The shop is great, they have a very clear business plan and I look forward to seeing that plan come to fruition as the economy recovers.”