HOW does a week-long birthday party sound?

Well, for Oak Tree Animal Charity that is exactly what they have been doing.

For the charity - based at Wetheral Shields near Carlisle - is celebrating its 110th anniversary - years during which its volunteers have made a huge and positive difference to countless animals in need.

The charity began life in 1909 as The National Equine (and Smaller Animals) Defence League. Even today, its staff and volunteers remain proud of one of the charity’s earliest missions - to improve the lot of the 72,000 pit ponies and working horses in the UK at that time.

Oaktree relies entirely on the community for support and funding - so it is entirely fitting that this week’s celebrations are community focused. There has been a different event each day.

The Oaktree team organised a fundraising community a sing-a-long. There was also a live Ceilidh band, with games, music, dancing and food.

Caroline Johnson, Oak Tree’s general manager said: “We’re thrilled by the level of support we have already received in the run-up to our 110th. Carlisle and surrounding area are brimming with people who genuinely care about animals and their needs and as a charity, we could not exist without this level of engagement.”

Supporting hundreds of domestic pets each year - mainly dogs, cats and horses - has its challenges but in 2018 Oaktree helped more than 1,700 animals.

This week has brought fun and games every single day.

The team also organised an event for the owners of pets adopted from the charity, allowing them to make a return visit, meeting staff - and other animal residents.

The team had held a day similar this previously, and it was such a big hit it was decided it must run again.

Volunteers work tirelessly to provide the best care for the animals, some of which will never leave the shelter.

A key reason for this week’s celebrations is to keep money coming into the charity, thereby allowing its vital work to continue.

Mieke Tennant, the events coordinator, said: “By joining in with our events, supporters are genuinely making a difference to local animals in the area – every single penny counts and we are so grateful to everyone who makes time to visit us”

Already this year more than 800 animals have been helped. That may mean finding a perfect “forever home” or helping owners develop ways that enable them to keep a much-loved pet.

The charity is determined to help as many animals as it can. Saturday will see the summer fair take place and there will be activities for all the family - including the canine members.

A host of classes aimed at helping owners and animal learn about each other and help better understand why different behaviours could be triggered will be held. Live music will be a focal point with more food and game for both humans and four-legged friends.

The charity will have a local vet on hand who can help with advice on the day.

The annual event has been a big hit with the community, who have been supporting the charity in all their endeavours.

While Oak Tree’s summer fair offers a wide range of fun and engaging activities for both dogs and humans the volunteers and staff are very much focused on raising as much awareness and funding for the charity as possible.

Lulu Parsons, Oak Tree’s fundraising and communications officer said: “We want to urge as many people as possible to come along and support our summer fair.

“The funds generated by these events is one of the things that enables us to keep doing what we do as a charity.”

To round the week off it will be hosting a special service at the Holy Trinity Church, Wetheral.

To celebrate its actual birthday - tomorrow - the charity will be holding a celebration of animals and showing off the community’s relationship with pets by holding a pet blessing with the team from Eden Churches.

The afternoon service will start with a bring-your-own picnic in the churchyard followed by the blessing at 2.30pm.

A cake for the final day of week-long celebrations has been provided by the Crown Hotel, Wetheral and it will be cut after the blessing ceremony.

The team from the charity said: “Oak Tree would like to highlight that if your pet would be comfortable at home rather than at the event, so please take a photograph of them so they can be part of the day.”

Keeping funds flowing for the Charity is vital and without the support of the public, they would be unable to offer the help they do.

But there are lots of ways to help besides donating money.

Volunteering at Oak Tree Animals’ Charity is just as important.

Volunteers - each of them passionate about animal welfare - are the driving force of this remarkable enterprise.

The charity recently added its 100th volunteer to its cause. A spokeswoman explained just how important volunteers are, saying: “We depend on our volunteers to help us with every aspect of running a successful charity.”