Wiltshire is the home to more than 400,000 pets, in a matter of speaking.

The county is the headquarters of Animal Friends Pet Insurance, one of the UK’s top three similar insurance companies, and it provides cover for some 400,000 pets within the UK with policies for cats and dogs, as well as horses, donkeys and their riders.

So for the concept that most insurance companies conduct their business from big cities as Animal Friends Pet Insurance currently occupies two eco-friendly office buildings on a hill overlooking Boscombe Down in Amesbury.

The rural setting belies the hive of activity that goes on within the premises. Its trophy cabinet boasts a number of accolades including Consumer Moneyfacts Pet Insurance Provider of the Year 2014 (and it is also in the running for the 2015 award), South Wilts Business of the Year and five-star Defaqto ratings.

And last year it appeared in the 18th annual Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league table which ranks Britain's private companies with the fastest-growing sales over three years. They were one of eight companies headquartered in the southwest of England (compared to six last year) which have made a strong contribution to the local economy. In total the eight employ 2,200 staff and have achieved combined sales of £490m.

The company was founded 16 years ago by Elaine Fairfax. Before setting up Animal Friends Pet Insurance Elaine had a law firm which gave legal advice and fundraising help to charities, but that wasn’t enough for Elaine; she wanted to do more.

She eventually happened upon the idea of a pet insurance company set up specifically to provide funds for animal charities. Her lifelong love of animals fuelled her desire to succeed and, in 1998, Animal Friends Pet Insurance was born.

Her vision and drive has made the company what it is, and in 2005 Elaine was named Business Woman of the Year at the NatWest everywoman Awards giving recognition to the tremendous growth of Animal Friends Pet Insurance.

In the intervening years the demand for pet insurance has grown and the company has followed suit. In addition to the 400,000 policies on the books they have also donated to over 300 different animal charities. To date the total amount donated stands at over £1.8 million.

Animal Friends also recently sponsored the award for Animal of the Year at the IFAW Animal Action Awards, hosted by Baroness Gale at the House of Lords and presented by BBC stalwart Bill Oddie. The recipient was a Heathrow sniffer dog called Tyke, who has spent most of his career detecting products of the illegal wildlife trade.

The company employs more than 100 people in six departments, with a number of specialties. As well as fully-qualified veterinary nurses and accountants it boasts a dedicated customer service team whose efforts earned them a commendation from the Consumer Moneyfacts award 2014.