A FORMER pupil at John Masefield High School has returned home to Ledbury after helping to cure sick animals in Morocco.

Newly-qualified vet Vanessa Thick, of Hereford Road, has been working in Africa with the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), which is a charity that looks after the welfare of animals.

Miss Thick, who was with her boyfriend James Howie, also a vet, said the experience was invaluable.

"My overall impression was that Morocco is a complete contrast to this country. Many of the families live on the breadline and are heavily dependent on their donkeys, horses and mules which are often treated badly because they are even further down the pecking order than their owners," she said.

"For us, working in Morocco was both rewarding and upsetting, but very worthwhile and will help me in my career as a vet."

Their cases included a stallion whose rump had been impaled by a long spike resulting in a deep-seated infection, a donkey which had lost a lot of skin and injured a leg in a traffic accident, and a severe fracture to a donkey's leg which had been left swinging in the air for some days.

Miss Think said she has a lot of respect for the charity following her stint in Morocco.

"Without SPANA there would be much more suffering in these poor countries," she said.

"They care for so many sick animals and also educate the schoolchildren in the need to look after animals and the environment."