Steaming through the day
Jade Chapman is one of the Directors at VIPPIES, most clients will have come across her when booking in their pets for day care, foster care or occasional visits. She also produces the regular newsletter that goes out to everyone with updates on VIPPIES latest activities, runs the office and gets to look after many of the animals at some point or another.
She has been a part of the business since her Mum, Sheena, set it up from home in Branston Booths helping with dog walking after school, playing with the foster pets and chatting to customers on the phone. “Since I was 11 I have had to learn to behave in a professional way on the ‘phone and to be ready to help out with the animals, it was the best part of my day!” she said.
Before Jade left Branston Community College she was preparing to take a bigger part in the business by attending Friday morning breakfast and Monday evening business network meetings. She admits to being terrified and hiding behind her hair as she introduced herself to audiences, hard to believe now, “I learned so much from the people I met and it helped overcome my shyness so that now I can talk more comfortably to customers and even groups at our pet first aid training sessions”.
Once VIPPIES became Jade’s fulltime occupation she knew she needed to learn as much as she could about working with animals as well as the office skills she had already picked up through her office apprenticeship. “As soon as I could I went off to get work experience at a groomers and attended an animal behaviour course at Riseholme to learn more about how to safely handle and care for animals”. She now co-ordinates the meet and greet sessions with new clients and works hard with the animals who are a little shy the first time they have to stay away from home, building up great relationships with both ‘furbabies’ and humans alike. But Jade is not just a fan of the fluffy ones, she also enjoys looking after the birds, reptiles and insects that come into their care – her own cocker spaniel Roxy has to share the love with a variety of birds and insects.
There is no doubt that Jade’s interest away from animals has also helped develop the confident, quirky young woman she has become. Steampunk is one of her passions, dressing in amazing outfits, cracking a whip and meeting with like-minded people of all ages and backgrounds. Jade says, “It’s a group of people I class as a second family, everyone accepts you for you. I’ve made so many friends who I feel like I have known forever! And I don’t underestimate how it has helped my anxiety and made me a stronger more confident person, particularly overcoming my insecurities about people which makes me a happy person even when I am away from my animals.”
Jade has also worked closely with one of her colleagues Stevie to look after wild birds in need of rehabilitation. She uses Stevie’s aviary and helps care for his birds when he is away. The pigeons all have names, “I started with Bumble who hadn’t quite got the hang of feeding so needed morning and evening help with eating peas. He has a broken wing but he is on the road to recovery and should be able to be released next year.”
She has also rescued an early fledged crow, Kenku, who fell out of a tree and into the back garden at VIPPIES HQ. Jade had to rescue her from the dogs and hand feed her meat until she started eating herself, she was relocated to Steve’s Corvid aviary where she has found a mate and should fledge next year. Sadly they don’t all have happy endings; Dave, a pigeon chick abandoned by his Mum, had to be hand reared from day one of his life. Jade fed him on pea puree and manuka honey; he lived to 12 days old and then had difficulties breathing, “I cried for a week when he died” she says, “maybe his Mum knew he wasn’t strong enough to make it in the wild and that was why he was abandoned”.
As a Director Jade is part of the HQ team and family that other Team VIPPIES folk turn to when things get difficult. She has learned from Sheena the importance of reliability and that pet care will never be a ‘9-5 when you feel like it’ business. She co-ordinates back up for the other team members if they are unwell or have an emergency and often steps in to help out at a moment’s notice herself; Jade explained, “If a pet needs an emergency vet run because they have become unwell on our watch, we do it. Other team members, family, friends and even other customers all step up to make sure we can put the animals first” that is the beauty of a strong team and family approach Team VIPPIES takes pride in.