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Core Team

WVS was officially registered as a UK charity in 2003 by vet Luke Gamble.  It has grown into one of the leading global organisations championing animal welfare thanks to the heart, dedication and passion of an amazing team.

Meet the core international team who make things happen:

Luke Gamble: Chief Executive and Founder

Luke Gamble qualifed as a vet in 1999 from Bristol University. Having completed a clinical scholarship in large animal medicine and surgery at Cambridge University, Luke established WVS at the end of 2002 with the focused objective to help as many animals as possible in his career.

In 2014, Luke stepped down as a trustee of WVS and became the CEO. He is also the founding CEO of the WVS sister charity Mission Rabies and Practice Prinicipal of Pilgrims Veterinary Practice in the New Forest. Luke has won several awards for his international veterinary work, was the star of two series of VetAdventures on Sky and Discovery, is on a WHO expert panel for global rabies control, and was voted by the Independent on Sunday as one of 101 most inspirational Great Britons in a New Years list. 

Luke's role within the charity is to spearhead new initiatives, oversee key projects and ensure WVS remains true to it's vision and ideals - championing both domestic animals and wildlife. Time is the fire in which we burn and Luke's job is to ensure every second counts and WVS relentlessly drives on to make a difference.

Outside of work, Luke enjoys his family, contact sports and writing.

Click here to go to Luke's website

Dagmar Mayer: International Veterinary Manager

Dagmar studied veterinary medicine in Munich, graduating in 2002. After finishing her postgraduate doctorate in 2004 she spent 6 years in the UK working as a vet in small animal practices and out of hours emergency clinics around the country.

Since 2009 Dagmar has worked as a volunteer on several veterinary projects in Europe, Africa and Asia and was also part of the teaching staff during the first training program of Indian vets at the WVS International Training Centre in Ooty. In 2013 she was senior veterinary co-ordinator in preparation for and during the launch of Mission Rabies, spending over 3 months in India.

For several years Dagmar tried to find a balance between her job as a freelancing vet in Germany and working as often as possible on charitable projects, providing veterinary care and free sterilisations for animals who would otherwise never see a vet in their lifetime. The decision to start the job as WVS International Veterinary Manager was easy as she is now able to support animals all over the world on a daily basis.

Linda Packman: Retail and Supporter Relations Manager

Linda is a long-time resident of the village of Cranborne and former owner of the village stores in Castle Street, where Luke's veterinary practice is now based! She ran the shop for 26 years and was looking for a change when WVS started the second-hand book shop at the front of the main WVS office. We didn't have far to look for the perfect person to run it! Linda started working just a few days a week to help get the new shop up and running, but with the book shop growing in popularity, Linda then became full-time and now manages the book shop, sales from our online shop and all areas of supporter relations.

Tess King: Charity Support Officer

Tess is passionate about animal welfare and conservation and holds diplomas in Conservation, Primatology and Applied Science in Animal Management. Having volunteered to help the charity in her spare time, Tess joined the team permanently in 2006.  

Initially in a full time role responsible for project management, fundraising and PR, she now works part time for the charity as Charity Support Officer, focusing on the organisation of all the logistics involved with the distribution of our Veterinary Aid parcels to ensure vital veterinary supplies reach where they are needed most.

Chris Payne: Logistics Support Officer

Chris Payne has lived most of his life in Dorset and is local to the Cranborne and Verwood area’s of the county.

Chris worked in logistics and shipping as a career until he decided to change his lifestyle around 2005 and take a job working with special needs children at a local residential school.

A chance meeting with Luke Gamble and James Florence then changed his career once again and lead to him joining WVS, where he combines his knowledge of logistics and shipping with the work of WVS.

Chris comments that there is never a dull moment at WVS and it has given him the opportunity to use his skills in logistics to help animals and people.

A lifelong animal lover Chris is often heard to say that he has found his perfect job. 

Leanne Chick: Senior Project Manager

Leanne joined the team in a part time role at WVS in 2014.  Initially as a Charity Support Officer but has progressed to a Senior Project Manager, assisting in organising new projects and co-ordinating the WVS volunteer trips around the world she is the main contact for volunteers wishing to apply for such trips. Leanne is also responsible for any charities wishing to register with us for support. 

Passionate about horses, Leanne loves the outdoor life spending time with her family surrounded by their animals.

Ilona Otter: Clinical Director - WVS ITC India

Ilona is a Finnish veterinarian (DVM) who started her career in a mixed animal practice in Finland in 2003 and came to India in 2004 to help a local charity called IPAN with their ABC-programs. This work proved to become her passion and in 2009 she joined WVS as the Clinical Director of the WVS International Training Center, empowering and inspiring veterinarians to sterilize and vaccinate dogs. Ilona completed MSc in Livestock Health and Production from the Royal Veterinary College of London in 2012. She has two daughters (Emma and Saara) and acts as a support-mother for one homeless boy (Venkadesh). At home, on the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge, Ilona enjoys the company of over 30 dogs as well as a number of other rescued animals and her own young riding horse, 'Riia'. In 2013 Ilona received the Kulapathi Munshi Award together with her husband Nigel Otter for their dedicated work towards animal welfare.

The Countess of Shaftesbury: Patron

The Countess of Shaftesbury became the first WVS Patron in March 2011. As a qualified vet and with a passion for animal welfare, the Countess is an ideal ambassador for the charity.

The Countess had already been a member of WVS for many years, after reading an article in the Veterinary Times about a WVS neutering project in Botswana.

“The Worldwide Veterinary Service is incredible. It gives people the opportunity to get actively involved in countries where animal welfare is essential. It is important to support charities that you believe in and where you feel you can make a worthwhile contribution. Obviously with my background as a veterinary surgeon I feel particularly drawn to the WVS. I can see what a huge difference to animal welfare they make. It’s also a big advantage that they are just down the road so I can keep closely connected to what’s going on and I can contribute more in my role as a patron.”

– Countess of Shaftesbury