A CHAMPION of small animals who has run a rescue charity out of her home for the last 23 years is looking forward to a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Gwen Butler, who runs Bunny Burrows from her home in Richmond, was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) last year in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, and has been invited to the garden party on Tuesday, May 21.

She said: "I'm very excited about going, I've got my outfit sorted and my friend Karen is coming with me.

"I've got a team of volunteers who will be helping me while I'm away in London for the night so I'm very lucky.

"Getting the BEM has been fantastic for the charity – people take me more seriously, although I've always had lots of support.

"I wish my late husband John could have been here to share it with me. He would have been so proud."

Mrs Butler frequently attends public events to encourage responsible ownership of pets, aiming to educate others on animal welfare.