When most people pack for a holiday in Phuket, their suitcase is crammed full with the latest designer gear and more make-up than you can shake your average lip-stick at.
Not Phil Cantwell.
When the Horncastle business owner jets out to the tropical island paradise in January, his case with be full of... dog toys!
Oh...and he might just find room for a couple of pairs of (in his words ) ‘smelly old swim-shorts’. Don’t mention the sandals!
Phuket - off the coast of Thailand - is one the most sought after holiday destinations by Brits, tempted by year-round sunshine, white, sandy beaches and crystal clear oceans that would delight Sir David Attenborough.
But Phil’s two week trip will by anything but a holiday.
He’ll be spending the entire fortnight as a volunteer helper at the Soi Dog Foundation - one of the biggest animal charities in the world.
The Foundation was formed in 2003 by British couple John and Gill Dalley.
They were shocked by the number of stray dogs and cats in the Phuket area.
Soon after the foundation was set up, Gill contracted a rare form of septicaemia while rescuing a dog that had run into a flooded buffalo field.
The illness kills many people but Gill survived although she lost both legs.
Three weeks after having her legs amputated, she discharged herself from hospital.
The Foundation flourished. It has helped rescue 15,500 dogs from the dog meat trade and while more than 178,000 dogs and cats have been sterilised and vaccinated.
In the last 12 months, 3,500 sick and injured dogs and cats were treated and another 561 adopted.
Tragically, Gill died from cancer last April but the work goes on with volunteers like Phil playing a key role.
Phil, a committed animal lover, said: “The foundation has something like 2.6m followers on Facebook worldwide. It’s an incredible organisation and they do an absolutely fantastic job.
“They rely on donations - and volunteers helping out the staff. I’ve thought about volunteering before and now I’ve just decided to go for it.”
Phil runs an award-winning restaurant in West Street - The Thai Dining and Riverside Grill.
He’s asking for people to donate toys and ‘slip leads’ which he will take to Thailand.
They can be dropped off or posted to his restaurant. Items can also be sent via the Amazon ‘wish list’ site.
There is an added incentive. Everyone who donates an item will go into a draw with a winner receiving a £100 voucher for a meal for four at Phil’s restaurant.
The draw will be made while Phil is in Phuket.
Phil adds: “Please, it can only be dog toys or slip leads. Unfortunately, I can’t accept cash.
“The toys also have to be new (because of regulations). It doesn’t matter how many you donate. They will all help make a difference.”
•For information about the Foundation visit www.soidog.org