Whilst working at the Essex Based dog rescue shelter, I often travelled back North to see my family on my Friday's off work, and travelled back down South driving through the night, ready to start work on the Saturday. On October 29th, I had arrived back in Essex to tend to my work with the dogs, and I had only seen my parents the previous day before returning South. After a hard days work, I was relaxing with some of the dogs when I received a phone call from my Brother. My Father had just died...
I was in no fit state to ride my motorcycle over 300 miles upon hearing such news, and so I went to sleep that night in shock. Early next day, I had to ride back North, and only God knows how I did not crash my motorcycle that day, due to the tears filling my motorbike helmet, hindering my sight as I endured the long ride back. I reached my Mothers home after 6 hours, and as she opened her front door, we hugged and cried...

My Father was my hero..His life inspired me in all aspects of my own life and achievements. He was your typical family man..worked hard all his life, he loved and lived for his Grandchildren, and even when during the last few years of his life, he often had to use a mobility scooter to travel any distance due to COPD and breathing problems, it never stopped him enjoying life. However, the last time that I saw my Dad, he had visibly lost weight, and he was not well that day. He even apologised to me because he felt bad that he wasn't much company, because he was feeling unwell the day that I last saw him alive. However, we did not realise that the reason he felt ill was due to Sepsis. And so on Saturday 29th October, my dear Father left us forever...

The next few weeks were a blur..organising his funeral, his affairs, and helping my Mother cope and hold her hand through such a terrible time. She had been married to my Dad for over 50 years, and now he was gone. A few weeks after we said goodbye to Dad, I had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave the job that I loved. Dogs are my life, and working with them meant more than all the money on Earth, but now my Mother must come first. As I travelled back down South in a friends car to collect my belongings, I could not bear to say goodbye to all of the wonderful dogs at the shelter, and so as I said goodbye to the staff, the journey back North was a long one...

Having given up everything when I moved to Romania in 2015 to care for stray and abused dogs, and more recently working in Essex, my only possessions were 3 suitcases and a rucksack full of clothes. I had sold everything else, including my motorcycles, furniture etc when I moved to Romania. And so, as my Mother now needed me, I had to find somewhere to live close to Mum. I managed to find a small flat to rent, but had nothing...no furniture, no essentials..not even a cup and saucer! However, thanks to the generousity of wonderful people on Facebook, I was given such things, and offers came in of a bed, a sofa, and everyday things that I would need. To you all...thank you from the depths of my heart..

Its now April...5 months since Dad died, and it's been a struggle. My number one priority is my Mother, and helping her adjust to a new life.
Of course I miss the dogs like crazy, and I miss being actively involved in rescue work, but my Mother must come first now. I am having to find alternative work, and care for my Mum, and it's hard...But even though I miss the dogs, I know that somewhere, my Father will be watching, and I just hope that I continue to make him proud. He was always proud of my work in relation to animal welfare, and now that I have had to take a back seat, I hope that I am doing him proud by looking after Mum...

Its is so strange that since setting up 'Norton Animal Rescue Foundation', there have been many strange coincidences in relation to my work...certain dates which have coincided with campaigns, and even that day when my beloved 'Norton' flew to Rainbow Bridge, April 13th...Even that day coincides with my other dog 'Bonnie's Birthday..And so every year, I celebrate her Birthday as I also light my candles to remember my wonderful little Norton. And even now, strange coincidences still occur! It just so happens that on this April 13th 2017 in a few days time, the latest edition of 'Dogs Today' Magazine is available in the shops, and in this edition it features myself, my work to date, and my Foundation! So when I celebrate Bonnie's Birthday this week, and also light my candles in memory of my Norton, I'll be reading one of my favourite magazines with me featured inside the pages!

I wish to thank so many wonderful people who have followed my work so far, who have participated in the campaigns to date, the celebrities who have joined us and supported us, and all the people on social media who have helped me during this difficult time in my life. I WILL return to rescue someday, but for for now, my involvement is limited. I hope people understand why. Thank you all, and I love you all. Gary Edwards (N.A.R.F).
Remember 'Vlad' my little Romanian rescue? (See photos below). Whilst working in Romania, Vlad was one of many dogs we picked up off the streets..a tangled mass of fur, neglected, sat alone by a busy road, and destined to be killed by traffic, or abused, or starved. He lived at the shelter for a little over a year, happily playing with the other dogs, but always the first to vie for attention. When I returned to the UK, I often though to my little 'Vlad', and would wonder how he was doing, and if he had managed to find a foster or adopter. He never did...
Whilst working at the Essex rescue, and before my dear Father passed away, I had arranged for little Vlad to be transported to the UK where he would be cared for by us, before finding him a permanent home here in England. However, when my Father passed away, Vlad's journey was hanging in the balance. However, here is where the strange coincidence of dates yet again materialises! It just so happened that the date of his arrival coincided my with Fathers funeral. And being back up North, he could not be dropped off at the rescue down South. The day of Dads funeral would be the only opportunity for him to be collected, and so after the funeral service, and after everyone had left, and my dear Mum returned home early that evening, I embarked on a journey to Manchester to meet the transporter and bring Vlad home...yes he was being adopted by myself...
My Bonnie came with me to greet Vlad, and I returned home with them both via the train...He was bewildered, and did not seem to recognise me, but has since settled into his new happy life well, and his house training and general behaviour has been perfect! The only issues being the normal things..frightened of heavy traffic, other dogs, and strangers, but he has now gained so much confidence, his little fluffy tail wags at strangers, and he follows my Bonnie everywhere! For a former stray who had never even been on a leash, had never lived in a home, he is doing so well!
I must thank Graham Bartholomew & others who made Vlad's journey possible. They helped with the transport costs, and it's thanks to them that Vlad is now living the good life with me..
Vlad may well be my last act of rescue due to current circumstances (I hope not), but yet again, dates conspire in strange coincidences...So, I dedicate Vlad's rescue and subsequent adoption to my Father, who I know would be so proud that this little dog is now living happily with me and my Bonnie.