A unique celebration of our life-changing assistance dogs

Support Dogs’ 25th anniversary Graduation and Awards and ceremony took place on Sunday November 19.

The event at the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria in Sheffield was both a celebration of the successful completion of the training of human/canine partnerships, and a thank you to the charity’s many supporters, including clients and volunteers.

Speaker Sian Ryan

Awards  handed out included fundraiser of the year, foster carer of the year and client partnership of the year.

Guest speaker was dog behaviourist and trainer Sian Ryan who co-presents Me and My Dog on BBC 2.

Fundraising manager Danny Anderson said: “It can take approximately 18 months to train a support dog partnership and so our graduation is very much a celebration and recognition of the hard work of our clients, volunteers, staff and of course our dogs, in completing this process.

“It also marks the start of a life-changing, working partnership between the support dog and their clients that will last approximately eight years.”

Graduates and award winners included:

  • Angie Stananought, who has epilepsy, and seizure alert dog Ushka
  • Foster carers Vicky Pearce and Ceri Beard
  • Angela Cooke, who is disabled, and Freya

 Angie Stananought has had severe epilepsy since childhood. A mother of two young daughters, Angie’s life has been transformed by her relationship with Support Dogs who have provide her with three successive seizure alert dogs,  trained to detect an oncoming epileptic seizure, enabling her to get to a safe place, and giving her independence and confidence. She has recently graduated with her third dog Ushka. Angie’s eight-year-old daughter Elisha has won the charity’s Young Fundraiser of the Year award.

 Vicky Peace and Ceri Beard from Darnall won the charity’s Foster Carer of the Year award after providing a loving and caring home for a number of support dogs in training over the past two years. Without their dedication and hard work, autism assistance dog Iggy would not have graduated.

 Angela Cooke from Doncaster, who is disabled, and relies on her support dog Freya,  won the charity’s Client Fundraiser of the Year award for completing 28 miles along the Taff Trail in Wales on foot and in a wheelchair, in aid of Support Dogs.

This year’s ceremony was attended by more than 200 people including the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Anne Murphy and the High Sheriff of Sheffield Stephen Ingram. Speaker Sian Ryan is a dog trainer, behaviourist and writer, who has appeared in and provided expert advice on a number of BBC TV programmes.

The event was sponsored by Sheffield Mutual, and raised more than £5,000 in sponsorship, a raffle, and donations.