AMONG 58 brightly decorated spruces at Tavistock Parish Church’s Christmas Tree Festival is one representing the charity, Street Vets, helping homeless people’s pets with free veterinary care.

The tree, hung with wooden baubles showing the names of pets currently being cared for, has been decorated by the church vicar, Matt Godfrey’s wife, Jo, 44, a part-time veterinary nurse at Drake’s Vets in Tavistock.

Away from work she runs the charity’s Plymouth branch and volunteers with the Plymouth charitable soup run, her medical bag at the ready to treat sick animals, predominantly dogs, whose owners are sleeping rough, or in temporary accommodation. She can vaccinate, flea and worm and help when an animal is sick, providing basic consultation and refer to a late-opening practice.

Jo said homeless people can feel excluded by society and can take time for them to accept her: ‘You have to build up trust with people. I know all ‘my’ clients. I know all ‘my’ dogs. It’s lovely – a privilege to share these lives with these people.’

After the festival, Jo’s clients will receive a bauble with their pet’s name on. She said the charity was stretched with resources: ‘Everyone’s working round the clock. Our volunteers are tired, our funds are stretched, but we are, sadly, needed more than ever.’

Anne Johnson, chairman of the event organisers Friends of Eustachius, said: ‘This is our 13th Christmas Tree Festival. It promises to be a spectacular event. Demand for trees has been very high, representing a wide variety of groups from Tavistock and the surrounding area. I would encourage people to come and view the trees – you won’t be disappointed!’

The festival runs daily until Sunday, December 11, between 9.30am to 4.30pm, unless there are events such as a Sunday service. There is a Sunday service on December 4, when it will open at 11am. Visitors are being invited to vote for their favourite tree, and there will be refreshments and crafts.