“Well they may as well try”
It must have been sometime during 2005 when Sheena stuck her head round the door to Deryck’s and Sandra’s part of the house in Branston Booths and announced that she and Rob were going to set up a new business walking dogs. Like most parents they smiled encouragingly, chuckled a bit but let Sheena leave the room before they turned to each other and said something like “well it won’t cost anything to try so they may as well give it a go”. Little did they know that a few years later they would be helping out behind the scenes of one of Lincolnshire’s best established and busiest dog walking, cat sitting, reptile caring, dog fostering, chicken feeding, house sitting, pet first aid training businesses.
When Sheena was small her affinity with animals struck her parents as she could get the grumpiest of creatures to show her affection, so they shouldn’t really have been surprised by how things turned out. Her first dog was a particularly tetchy poodle and she also managed to tame the local pub’s snappy poodle.
Sandra grew up on a farm and after a short stint at the probate registry she returned to her first love of working on the land – lifting potatoes, driving tractors, pulling peas at farms in and around Branston Booths – in fact it wasn’t until VIPPIES relocated to Reepham 11 years ago that she had lived anywhere other than Branston Booths. She admits that the animal side of farming never interested her much but she still takes a pride in looking after the pets that come to stay at VIPPIES and they clearly enjoy her company very much!
Deryck grew up helping out with his Father’s Dairy business in Dunholme, he remembers as a lad collecting milk in churns and then filling the school bottles each morning and washing them out for the next day. However his career as a trouble shooter for an engineering company took him all over the world, with Sandra in tow if the placement was for longer than 12 weeks.
Sheena’s Very Important Pet Services started out as a dog walking service and Deryck, who turns 80 this year (2020), would help out with some of the walks as Rob was still working as a postman. He still does a bit of walking, but only small dogs that don’t need to go any further than he can! The main duties that the proud parents fulfil are very much behind the scenes, especially when the move to bigger premises took place and the business started to really motor. Like all good parents they are that all important safety blanket.
Deryck played a big part in getting the new VIPPIES HQ up to the high standard they set themselves with quality fencing and segregated garden areas for the dogs to play in or take time out; and for when the inevitable stray is brought to their door. This involved taking down 18 conifers to start with and then working round upgrading the chain link fencing for solid wooden fences. He also helped make sure the facilities in the house and office could cope with the demands of the extended family and team members.
Together, he and Sandra, are the back-up team so that Sheena, Rob, Jake and Jade can get some down time now and again. They specialise in giving a quiet space for the older, anxious or poorly dogs that come to stay as a respite from the hurly burly of the youngsters. They also help out with mercy dashes and transporting pets when the owners can’t manage for themselves.
Sandra is clearly delighted that her daughter’s hair brain scheme has done so well, “seeing the business grow and all her hard work pay off” is said with a smile. And Deryck has obviously enjoyed being part of the success watching the dogs grow up and “when I am in town and a dog drags its owner across to say ‘hello’ I have to explain that I know them from the backroom at VIPPIES”. They are both thrilled that their grandchildren Jake and Jade are stepping up and taking the business forward.
Team VIPPIES, the family focus, it is all part of the success story. Long may it continue!