Pet-lover bike ride tribute

John Stokes

John Stokes

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A WIGAN man is taking on a charity bike ride in memory of much-missed animal lover Sheila Stubbs.

John Stokes will cycle the 60 miles from Manchester to Blackpool on Sunday in aid of the RSPCA.

He is seeking sponsorship for the charity’s Wigan, Leigh and District Branch PAWS Centre. In particular the gesture is being made in memory of Mrs Stubbs, a lifelong animal lover, who died on June 2.

John, 36, a postman from Barnsley Street, Springfield, helped Mrs Stubbs when she ran the local RSPCA branch animal welfare centre in Bridgeman Terrace.

He said: “I began volunteering when I was only 15 years old and felt lost after my dog passed away.

“Like most canine companions, he had been my faithful friend all my life, and by helping other animals, homeless or less fortunate than mine, I was more able to cope with his loss.

“Not all the jobs I did for Mrs Stubbs were directly related to animal welfare.

“Sheila could be very persuasive when she could see a job which would ultimately help assist the local branch. For example, me and my sister found ourselves spending a big chunk of our school holidays repairing and repainting large collection boxes!”

Current branch manager, Mrs Stubbs’s son Bill, said: “It is very kind of John to undertake this arduous ride to help swell the many donations which have already been made in memory of my mum.

“The vast majority of our work and fund-raising is undertaken by local people volunteering to undertake any task which will help our local work. Mum would feel greatly moved and heartened by this act of loyal support.

“Many of the volunteers, who have supported her work since 1978, including those who have adopted thousands of animals from her over the years, came to her funeral, and I have received almost a hundred cards and scores of other messages of condolence from local people.

“I feel sure her spirit will spur on John, and I wish to publicly thank them on behalf of the RSPCA Wigan, Leigh and District Branch.”

The bike ride is organised by The Christie Hospital, and 20 per cent of John’s sponsorship will also be donated to them.

Folk can sponsor John by phoning the PAWS Centre on 01942 824165, e-mailing contactus@rspca-wigan.co.uk, or writing to RSPCA Wigan, Leigh and District Branch PAWS Centre, York Street, Wallgate, Wigan, WN3 4BY.