Meet the child, 8, who didn’t want birthday presents

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A selfless eight-year-old animal lover sacrificed birthday presents for donations of pet food – but insists it wasn’t a barking mad decision!

Kind-hearted Layla Mok, 8, Kiteleys Green, Leighton, had a purr-fect birthday disco on August 3 at Brooklands Hall, when instead of bringing gifts for a little girl, guests were invited to donate food for an animal shelter, in aid of poorly pets.

Layla accumulated quite a collection of dog and cat food, which was taken to the Animals at Risk Shelter, Stopsley, on Saturday, while even Waitrose and Tescos donated some food to help.

She also raised £35 in donations.

Layla, of Leedon Lower School, said: “I really love animals and I wanted to help, as some of them get really hurt.”

Proud father, Ben Mok, 30, added: “The shelter is owned by a retired couple and they were over the moon when Layla selected them.

“Since she is so young they thought that what she had done was incredible.

“We chose the shelter because it is non commercial and has a ‘no kill’ policy – Layla even saves slugs and snails when we threaten to kill them for invading our allotment!

Ben, his wife Candy, 30, and son Drew, six, suspect that Layla acquired her love of animals from visits to her grandmother in Saudi Arabia.

Candy said: “We used to visit Layla’s grandmother Karen, when she lived in Doha Qatar.

“Karen would rescue animals in need and feed them.

“At one point she ended up with about 20 cats and eight dogs – it was crazy!”

Layla’s family are certain their young daughter will become a vet, while in the meantime Layla will be busy looking after the family’s three pets: cats Poppy and Rhino, and their Chihuahua and King Charles Spaniel cross, Milo.