VALENTINE’S Day is a time for showing your affection to your loved one but there are plenty of Essex charities who need your love tomorrow.

A small, thoughtful and hopefully fortuitous present you could give your partner is an Essex Lottery ticket, which could have a prize of £25,000.

60p of every £1 Essex Lottery ticket sold goes to a handful of Essex charities and they all need your help to keep up their amazing work.

Staff at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, based in Grays, care for injured and ill animals which have been run over, poisoned, which are unwell or orphaned.

Sue Schwar, who founded the hospital, said the charity takes in more than 10,000 animals a year. She said: “We’re the only animal charity like this across the whole of Essex.

“We get a variety of animals from foxes, badgers, swans and reptiles to bats.

“If there is a domestic, farm or exotic animal in real need of help, then we will step in where we can.

“We totally rely on public donations to keep going. We’re really grateful to everybody that plays the Essex Lottery.

“Something like the Essex Lottery supporting us is absolutely vital.

“Without your help, we wouldn’t be able to help our animals.”

Joe White, from the RSPCA, praised the hospital for its valuable continued work.

He said: “The hospital is a wonderful resource for the RSPCA to have. Without them, we’d struggle to find somewhere to take our wildlife within Essex.”

Donations also help the Essex Retired Police Dogs Fund which cares for the Essex Police dogs who have been injured, removed from service or are simply too old to serve.

The charity, which is based in Alresford, is independent of the police force and since 2012 has helped more than 40 retired police dogs.

It provides funding and Frank Belgrove, a member of the fund, explained how important the Essex Lottery is to the charity.

He said: “Some of the vet bills we’ve paid have been in the thousands and some of the people can’t afford those bills.

“Unfortunately, in some extreme circumstances, we believe some of these dogs would have been put to sleep.

“The charity plays an immense part in prolonging the life, a good life, of these retired dogs.”

PC Amanda Pollard, a dog handler at Essex Police, described the work she does with the fund. She said: “I’ve been working in the police dog section for 14 years.

“My dog, Frankie, recently retired from the force, has kept me safe.

“I want to give her the best retirement she deserves.

“Essex Lottery is a regular income for the fund.”

For the horse lovers, REACH, a charity which uses horses in therapy sessions, could be where you send your 60p donation.

REACH, which stands for Rehabilitation, Education, Assessment and Centre of Hippotherapy, runs sessions for children and adults where those in need of therapy can build a relationship with the horse.

Louise Barrett, the owner of the charity, described the work she and her staff do on a daily basis. She said: “Hippotherapy utilises the three-dimensional movement of a horse’s movement

“The relationship of being with a horse is amazing. Children who wouldn’t necessarily socialise with their peers, love their horse.

“It changes people. They thoroughly enjoy coming here, and they don’t know how hard they’re working.

“The service we provide is specialist so it’s great to have the support of the Essex Lottery.”

Caroline, whose daughter, Abigail, is helped by Louise and her staff, is delighted with the charity’s work. She said: “It’s such good exercise for her core.

“It’s good for her stability and her muscle stiffness.

“It would make a huge difference if we couldn’t come here.

“It would be such a shame because she loves it. It feels like fun and exercise rather than therapy.”

If you know someone who has suffered, or is suffering from domestic abuse, the Next Chapter charity can offer them support.

The charity, set up in the 1970s, offers shelters in Colchester for women who are fleeing from or experiencing domestic violence.

Next Chapter, who greatly benefit from Essex Lottery donations, offers advice and guidance on how to get the women’s lives back on track, and helps them get back on the ladder in finding a career.

Chloe, who received support from Next Chapter, explained how grateful she was for their kindness. She said: “I was experiencing domestic violence on a daily basis. It was making me numb myself from my reality by using drugs.

“I had to turn to the police, who referred me to the charity.

“I love it here. It’s given me a safe space.

“I’ve got my drug habit under control. It offers opportunity for education, sports and counselling.

“I want to create a life for myself and have a career.

“Thank you to all the Essex Lottery players, you have helped women like myself.”

Help of a different kind is available from the Witham Town Luncheon Club which is a social centre offering lunch, a chat and some lively games of bingo.

The Essex Lottery donations allow the club to pay the rent on their buildings, and pay for all the meals they prepare.

Head chef Karen Dillane said: “It’s become a huge lifeline for the older generation. They want to be part of the community, but their mobility issues, and sometimes their mental health restrict how they can get around.

“It allows them to get out of the house and just have a chat with people.”

Sylvia Wade, a regular at the club, added: “I don’t have any relatives in Essex, and if I didn’t come here it would just make another day that I would spend at home doing nothing.”

However you decide to treat your loved one this Valentines Day, bear in mind the charities need a little love too.