A SELF-professed bunny devotee has been shortlisted for an award which recognises the heroes of animal welfare.

Gwen Butler, owner of Bunny Burrows rescue centre in Richmond, has been shortlisted in the volunteer of the year category in the Ceva Animal Welfare Awards, taking place in Birmingham on April 8.

Mrs Butler said she was thrilled to have made it to the final three in her category and despite waiting for hip replacement surgery said she can’t wait to attend the black tie event.

“I never take a holiday so I’d love to go.

“I’m shocked at making the final three but also very excited. I just love what I do and I love the challenging of looking after a rabbit or guinea pig that needs life-long specialist care.

“The animals are the reason I get out of bed every day, a lot of them have poor health but they still manage to hop around and be happy.”

Mrs Butler said she has a team of volunteers that help her to run the centre – and without them she would not be able to care for as many homeless pets.

The Animal Welfare Awards, now in its fourth year, spans seven categories and recognises those who have gone the extra mile to help better the lives of animals around the world, be they volunteers, charity workers or veterinary professionals.

Organisations supporting the event include Blue Cross, PDSA and International Cat Care, and sponsor Ceva, which is a veterinary drug company.

Judges were impressed with Mrs Butler’s track record of re-homing more than 1,500 animals over the last 20 years, and of fundraising to help finance care and rehabilitation.