Looking after stray and rescued dogs the rather odd Camberley Kate was regularly seen walking them around the town. 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 1970s.
Kate 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.
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 vet. She took it home and from then on became dedicated to 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.
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 Cradock, 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.”