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Camberley Kate and her stray dogs
Camberley Kate
Kate and her dogs were a well known sight in the town until her death in 1979

All towns have at least one eccentric resident who is known throughout the area and Camberley is no exception.

Kate Ward, or Camberley Kate, as she is affectionately nicknamed, was well known to residents, until her death in the '70s.

She was a dog lover who rescued any stray pup that was sent her way and estimates indicate she cared for more than 600 dogs in her lifetime.

Although she may be gone, her memory lives on around the globe.

Kate was born in 1895 in Middlesbrough but by the age of 10 she was being raised in a strictly religious home by her aunt.

Aged 19, she left domestic service in Bradford, and moved down South.

Records don't show why she moved to Camberley but it is possible she went to work as a servant for the Royal Military Academy on the London Road, as many other girls of her age did at the time.

Kate Ward
She did have her detractors though and complaints were made

She bought her first house in the town for £600 in 1943. This was to become home to the first of many rescued dogs; a lame greyhound, who was destined to be put down by the local vet.

She took it home and from then on, became dedicated to rescuing and looking after strays.

She never turned down a stray.

She lived in a small terraced cottage in the Yorktown area, on the London Road, a few doors down from The Lamb pub (now demolished).

Someone built her a green wooden cart, so that she and her pack of stray dogs, could make the four mile round trip to the town centre, every day, to collect donations and sell postcards with her picture on.

More importantly perhaps, the trips allowed her to collect more strays from the Police Station.

REMEMBERING KATE
I remember scraping together pennies to pay for a photograph of Kate and her dogs when I was a child.
Rosemarie

Woe betide anyone who tried to take a photo of her without making a small donation towards the upkeep of her beloved dogs!

Kate could be quite feisty on occasions! Residents recall tales of Kate giving someone a good (and loud) telling off for taking, what she saw, as liberties!

Other funding to support her came in the form of legacies and public generosity, although apparently she mentioned a "gentleman" who supported her financially too.

A local vet called Geoffrey Craddock, supplied Kate's charges with the necessary veterinary care from 1954 until her death in 1979, aged 84.

According to him, "All the dogs were incredibly healthy and they lived to a ripe old age. She had great humour, great character, and great determination. I shall miss her very much indeed".

She did have her detractors though and complaints were made about the number of dogs she owned, the animal's welfare and her somewhat eccentric behaviour.

However, the police were very supportive of her and even helped work out the easiest route for her daily trip to town, to ensure she could travel safely.

Kate's fame spread far and wide. She featured in newspapers as far afield as Australia and the USA. Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret's husband even made a film about her!

REMEMBERING KATE
She had a whistle, which she blew when the dogs barked too much.
Joe Bates

On the 12th November 1973, Kate was interviewed by a US TV journalist, George Montgomery, from NBC Evening News in America.

He asked her why she liked dogs and her reply was that she was lonely and preferred them to humans.

Although that may be the case, Kate was generous to her fellow Camberley residents too.

She donated money to Camberley Baptist Church for new hymnbooks, bought rocking horse toys for disabled children and donated £100 to a fund for Vietnamese orphans.

Despite not being personally wealthy, living day to day on her small pension, she apparently also gave anonymous financial gifts to those she considered less well off than herself.

She also set up a trust fund to care for her remaining dogs after her death.

Ill health took its toll and after moving to Kingsclear residential home in Park Road, Kate died on 4th August 1979.

Camberley resident Colin Ingleton wants to see Kate remembered with a plaque in the town, that she did so much for.

Kate Ward outside her house on the London Road
She was lonely and said she preferred dogs to humans

He told his local paper "She's part of the town's history and it would be a good way to tell children about her and the good work that she did".

This is a sentiment that is echoed both by David Chesneau of The Camberley Society, and by local historian and author Ken Clarke.

Only time will tell whether Kate will join composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, and Dame Ethel Smyth, the celebrated composer and suffragette, and be honoured by a plaque in the town.

Comments on this article

Ronnie Stone, Ex Irish Guards

As a young Guardsman at Pirbright in the early sixtes can well remember Kate pushing her handcart i would think most of the service men and women in that era would well remember this lady for the way she give her time to any stray dog`s that came into her care a lady before her time may she rest in peace.

Helen Davies, Lightwater

I didn't realize that Kate & her dogs were so famous -

Just a plaque! - what we need is a full size sculpture of Kate - her dogs - her cart - in the new precinct, on floor level, so that we could all interact with a bit of Camberley's history. Kate & her dogs could be our 'Greyfriars Bobby'. It would be a shame to loose this part of the boroughs history.

I remember shopping in Camberley & finding even one toddler in a pushchair sometimes a bit stressful: and there would be Kate with her green cart overflowing with dogs and just as many on dogs on the ground. The dogs all looked as if they were out on a spree - & there was a fair amount of barking - and Kate doing some shouting - a little pandemonium going on. Kate & her dogs ruled the world - you definitely gave way to Kate.

I am glad to see that people were kind to Kate and helped her in her mission in life - Kate what a character - what a lady.

Mike Griffiths

I remember Kate from the 60's when I was at school and lived in Frimley. Not knowing or having dogs then I kept my distance but I had to watch. Could not quite get my head around what she was doing a that time, but taking in strays seemed a 'good thing' A plaque would be the very least she should have. Having 5 dogs myself now and learning how to look after them via The Dog Whisperer I can see why the dogs had the perfect life and what a hero she was. Just found out she was vegan as well which seems well ahead of the times. Plaque at least, please.

Paul Fuller

I remember Kate very well. We shared a ploughmans lunch every day, in the park, on the London Road. Brings back memories. I even met her in Tekels Way.

J Wheeler

I used to drive through Camberley in my lorry twice a week. I always tooted her and she would wave. We had a whip round for her at work amongst the drivers. We collected £147 and she was so pleased. I still miss her, please please put up a plaque for her, she's a legend.

Bill Hudd

I first met Camberley Kate while I was stationed in the RMA in the mid 40s. Kate would walk her dogs to Old Dean Common with the old and feeble dogs in her green cart.

Julie Smith nee Shuttleworth

l lived in Camberley in 1968 my father managed a printing firm in Park Street and we often saw Kate and her dogs well you heard them first coming down the street. She didn't like people very much but loved her dogs.

Janine

She was a great pack leader controlling all those dogs, Camberley's very own Dog Whisperer!

David Zimmer, Rochester NY USA

I was in the US Navy in 1956 stationed in Blackbushe Aerodrome. I met Kate outside a tea shop in the center of Camberley and asked her the dogs names. There were about 12 at the time and she named everyone of them.

Wendy Watts

Whenever I travelled to Camberley I always looked out for her and her dogs. It was a wonderful sight. when I grew up and had children of my own I would always point her out to them and they would be as amazed as I was.

Darren Smith, Michgian USA

I remember seeing Kate with her pack and wheel cart when I was growing up in Camberley.

Caron Newman

I grew up in Camberley and often saw Kate and her dogs on their way back home at about 5pm. I remember one day looking in through the window of where she lived and seeing lots little bowls and beds individually placed on the tables and the floor.

Alan Williams, Embro Canada

As an Ex "Traco" London road driver, I passed Kate many times.

Maureen Binstead

I worked in a garage on the A30 and Kate would bring in her cart to have the wheel put back on quite often. On good days she would chat to me about her dogs. I once went to her house and she had mattresses on the floors for the dogs to sleep on.

Sue Pace

As a child we lived in Southampton but travelled through Camberley regularly. My brother and I had to look out for her as a way of entertainment as the journey always felt long. This was usually around 9am Saturday morning. I don't ever remember seeing her on the return early Sunday evening. I now live in NZ and recently met someone who was with the British Army in Camberley and they also have very vivid memories of her.

John Baker

As a youngster I lived at 197 London Road. Our house was located across from Laundry Lane. Kate Ward lived South of us, down by the pub called "The Lamb." Every Saturday morning she and her dogs went by our house. She liked the fact that my sisters and I would put out bowls of water for the dogs in the Summer time, She was kind of peculiar but she did not bother anybody, most of all she was very kind to her dogs.

Sara Graham

My Mother was about to visit the local Council Offices one morning and encountered Kate outside with her cart full of dogs, one of which was barking furiously. As my mother approached Kate said to her 'shut Bobby up will you?' and promptly disappeared inside leaving my mother to 'dog sit' them all.

Sally

She was outside Amy and Navy with her dogs every time we went to Camberley when I was younger.

Cliff Hortin

I remember Kate from my childhood days, but being both fascinated and a little afraid.

Tony Crawford

She had a way with dogs I have never seen before nor since; pushing her pram with all dogs well under control, and we are not talking about 1 or 2 - Kate had dozens of them. I would buy dog food for her dogs, but she would not take anything for herself.

Southerner in the Hebrides

She made that boring Saturday shopping come alive when I was a lass!

Sue Belsey

Yes, I remember seeing Camberley Kate walking in Camberley with all her dogs. They were always extremely well behaved.

Jerry Forbes

Wonderful Lady ! I remember her from years ago when I lived in the area.

Katrina

I remember Camberley Kate very well. We lived in Sandhurst at the time but my mother was a journalist with the Camberley news so knew all about her. During school holidays I would nag my mum to take me into work in the hope that I would see Kate!

Paul.

As a kid growing up in the 1960s Kate was a source of fascination and a little fear, she sometimes seemed a little loud with the dogs which appeared a bit lively, but it was always a treat to see Kate.

Lauren Fabia

Kate Ward was my great grandfathers sister. Her and her brothers family fell out and they did not talk (I don't know why). They saw her once, years after they fell out and she told them to clear off. My Mum keeps a photo of her up in our Kitchen.

Dean Lansdell

I remember shopping on Saturday in the mid 70s and she had big dogs at the outside. She had lumps of raw meat in the cart .

Eileen Durham

When she was on the London Road (with her cart) and you were behind her in the car, you never got far! Wonderful caring lady.

Christine Stevens

In 1967 I was working in The Red Cottage Gardens (old Cinema) opposite the Staff College entrance, London Road. I remember Kate tying up her barrow and dogs to the railings of the Post Office, a few doors down. She would pop in I guess maybe for her pension? I also worked at Elliots Fruit/Veg next door to the Duke of York on the London Road, I think I remember a butchers along that parade of shops that Kate use to stop at and collect meat and bones. She loved those dogs.

Peter Fountain, Odiham

I remember Camberley Kate and always thought how wonderful that a person could be so selfless, she deserves full recognition.

Simon Kyte, Tunbridge Wells

I remember her awfully well as I always loved dogs as a child. What really struck me was the amazing range of dogs she had. For ages I had a photo of her in my room as a child.

Do you remember Camberley Kate? E-mail us with your memories.





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