Giving back to community is a pet project for Gary Whittle

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Every charitable act is a stepping stone away from heaven, or so the old saying goes.

If there’s one person whose eventual entry through the pearly gates looks to be guaranteed, it’s Newtongrange businessman Gary Whittle.

For the past year, Gary has been busy collecting donations from local businesses to pass on to those in need in the local community.

Mr Whittle, who runs Gorebridge-based pet sitting business Pet Helpers Scotland, collects and donates takeaways and food to locals in need and also bread and milk or other essentials for the winter.

The local philanthropist has now purchased musical instruments to donate to Southhouse Young People’s Centre.

Gary explained why he started helping others: “A lot of people I work with are vulnerable. When you are doing dog walking you become friends with people and get a window into their lives.

“It was not much of a hardship to me to do this, and it makes a big difference to people.

“I don’t really have a name for it. I have got a network of clients in Midlothian and if I hear about people needing help I look into helping. It’s all very sort of off the cuff.

“With the bad weather early last year I realised I had a lot of down time because obviously I couldn’t take dogs out. I saw these people unmobilised because of the snow.

“You see more and more appeals these days. I saw a nursing home in Bonnyrigg looking for a park bench so I looked in to it and got them one.”

Gary, whose popular pet sitting firm has more than 20 years of experience in working with dogs, spoke of the importance of his latest donation.

He said: “I was in care as a kid and I thought about the kids at Southhouse. With music you can lose yourself for a bit and forget about problems you are having.

“It doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything extra. If everyone made a tiny effort it would make a big difference. If you are running a business you count on the community, so it’s nice to give back.”