Mandy O’Callaghan

The glue that holds it all together

Every organisation has someone who works behind the scenes on the stuff that some people regard as ‘red tape’ but in fact is the mission critical activity that keeps the organisation and its clients safe. Mandy is just that person at VIPPIES. She is not the booking service that you contact via enquiries@vippies.co.uk but the person who nags you for your pets’ vaccination record or care plan updates among other things,  she is the human being behind admin@vippies.co.uk . Not necessarily the sort of thing you would associate with someone fresh back at the desk after swimming with seals in Norfolk!

Mandy does get involved in the odd bit of dog walking and emergency foster care but her main role at VIPPIES is to make sure the documentation that is required by the new licensing arrangements is correct, up to date and easily available. When she started with the team around four years ago the system of care plans and vaccination records was paper based in folders and needed to be scanned onto the electronic systems; then GDPR (the updated form of data protection) and the new licensing arrangements came along so her job just grew and grew.

So, how did it all start? Mandy has known Sheena ‘forever’ and remembers the days of Sheena leaving the Tesco checkout to start this new business. At the time Mandy was a full-time carer for her son Adam who had cerebral palsy, but she also had a love of animals and so was very interested in watching the new venture grow and blossom. She and Adam had Jazz, a rescue Greyhound, as part of their family, a budgie that would sit on Adam’s wheelchair. Unfortunately, Adam’s condition led to his early death aged 24 and this, understandably, sapped Mandy of much of her strength and confidence, but she needed a job. She had the skills to be a carer but knew that emotionally it was not the right thing to do. In true VIPPIES style Sheena recognised Mandy’s transferable skills to her business and asked Mandy to jon the team and help them out of a corner with the growing documentation and paperwork. “At first I was worried they were just being kind and making something up for me, but it didn’t take long to realise that I was going to be making a useful and important contribution to the business”, said Mandy. Sheena backs this up, “Of course you want to help a friend, but more importantly we needed an extra pair of hand behind the scenes in the office. She has become a massive support, especially to Jade and I, we couldn’t manage without her”. 

In her time with VIPPIES Mandy has learned many new skills such as using a computer for more than just emails and Google! She has contributed to making sure that, as the company grows and becomes more regulated, it does not lose its team and family atmosphere, “No team member is more important than another, no client is more important than another, but the pets are top of the priority list!” she says. Which is just as well as some days her desk is surrounded by animals all demanding regular cuddles – which features in the job description. Mandy values the ethos behind VIPPIES that is more than just words, “Customers can turn to VIPPIES for help when their circumstances change and know that they will be helped not judged, for example it is not unusual for VIPPIES to help rehome a pet if the owners can no longer look after them; or if there is a family crisis they can be confident that VIPPIES will step-in to care for their pets at a moments notice,” which is how Mandy came to adopt Mia, a cocker spaniel and very needy former client of VIPPIES, when she needed a new home. “We make sure we have a genuine emergency back up system in place,” demonstrating that VIPPIES manages the careful balance of professional service with a ‘family, friend and team’ atmosphere.

The most important part of Mandy’s job at VIPPIES (after the pet cuddles) is maintaining the care plans, “When we walk a dog, visit a cat or foster the pets it is so important that we know everything the owner knows about that particular animal. Changes in behaviour, medications, favourite toys. All these things are recorded and briefed so we can give the best possible and safest care,” and Mandy needs this information in advance so that she can post it in the dog care room at HQ or pass it on to the designated carer before the visit so there are no surprises. “For example, if the Archduke Ralph has added another breed of dog to the list of those he won’t tolerate it helps us if his owner Jane can let us know as soon as it happens so we can plan ahead for his future stays.” Mandy is very clear that good two-way communication is vital, “We also let our customers know if we notice something different about their pet, it maybe they haven’t noticed because it has developed slowly. We are not being critical we are being supportive!”

When Mandy is not making sure things run smoothly at VIPPIES HQ she enjoys birdwatching with her partner Paul, getting out into the beautiful and peaceful places around us, the swimming with seals is another example of that gentle side. But don’t be fooled, Mandy is a Steampunk and also enjoys heading off to Music Festivals – including the small Wild Festivals.

However, if you want to keep Mandy happy make sure you reply to her email requests for vaccination certificates and keep those care plans up to date!