Thanks for 25 years of supporting Support Dogs!

The great and the good of Sheffield packed into the city’s Crucible Theatre for a special corporate showcase to mark Support Dogs’ 25th anniversary.

More than 100 corporate sponsors and guests, plus the Lord Mayor, the Master and Mistress Cutler, and the charity’s newest patrons the Earl and Countess of Scarbrough, joined a number of Support Dogs’ clients with their dogs, staff and volunteers.

Chief executive Rita Howson

Partnership ambassador for Support Dogs, David Heugh welcomed guests. “This year is our 25th anniversary, so this is one of our birthday parties,” he said. “ It’s also an opportunity to showcase what we do to our existing sponsors and supporters, and hopefully tempt some of you into becoming a sponsor or supporter.”

Particular thanks were due to ESP Projects Limited, Arkom Creative, Investec Wealth and Investment, Taylor and Emmet Solicitors, Burrows Toyota and Big Yellow Storage.

Mr Heugh added: “Regular guests will know that it takes two years of intensive training, at a cost of nearly £20,000 to fully train a support dog. We’re proud to do this free of charge for our clients.”

Three clients spoke movingly about their lives and how their assistance dogs had transformed their quality of life, and that of their families; Sarah Hadfield, mother of Cohen, a young boy with autism, Sally Burton, who has epilepsy, and Amanda Davidson, an ex-police officer, who has a disability assistance dog.

Amanda Davidson

Rita Howson, chief executive, who introduced the speakers, added: “Our clients have such difficult lives, take on the big responsibility of having and working with a dog, then go out and stand in the rain and fund-raise for us. I’m in awe of them and what they do for us. They know, first-hand, the difference a dog can make.”

Through its three training programmes for disability support dogs, autism dogs and seizure alert dogs, the charity uses a reward-based system to teach special dogs  to carry out a wide range of tasks  that make life easier, safer, and more independent for their owners.

The showcase event was covered by local paper The Sheffield Star, which is running a two-month ‘Pounds for Pups’ campaign in aid of Support Dogs.