Holden out for a Hero!

A deaf Springer Spaniel who overcame a history of neglect to become a life-saving medical dog for his owner and an RSPCA worker who dedicates her life to helping vulnerable people and their pets have been named animal heroes at an awards ceremony last night (Wednesday 26 November).

The winners of the second ever Animal Hero Awards were announced at a star-studded and heart-warming evening at The Grosvenor House Hotel in London, hosted by TV star and animal lover Amanda Holden.

The event was hosted by The Daily Mirror in partnership with the RSPCA and celebrates tales of ­couragaeous animals and those who have overcome difficulties as well as outstanding individuals and businesses which have made a difference to animal welfare.

Paul O'Grady who presented Celebrity Supporter Award to RSPCA vice-president Dr Brian May said: "Thank God for the RSPCA, they do such wonderful work.

"We all have a responsibility to care for animals and not to abuse them. It is vital that the RSPCA is given our support."Henry – Hero Animal.jpg

Dr Brian May added: "There is so much joy in animals and you can see the impact they have on people gathered here today. The Animal Hero Awards really are inspirational."

The RSPCA presented two of the awards. The winner of the first – Hero Animal of the Year – was Henry (pictured left).  After suffering appalling neglect at the hands of a former owner, Henry recovered and was adopted by Julie Barrett, who is ill with multiple conditions. He now detects when diabetic Julie’s blood sugar is low and even saved her life when she fell seriously ill as a result of septicaemia by raising her mother’s attention. Henry is now deaf, but has learnt sign language and is an ambassador for the Deaf Dog Network.

RSPCA Animal Welfare Officer Hayley Plows won the RSPCA Superstar of the Year Award. She has worked for the RSPCA for more than three years and works to protect the pets of vulnerable people, drug addicts and the mentally ill, often at risk to herself. She also fundraises for her branch, RSPCA Central and North London and takes in foster animals until they can be found loving new homes.

The other finalists in this category – Tamsyn King and Bonnie Boddie also received recognition for their vital work with the animal charity.

Tamsyn King became a pet fosterer for the RSPCA’s domestic violence scheme Pet Retreat, after struggling to find a home for her own pets when she fled an abusive partner. She now cares for other victims animals while they are in refuge. RSPCA volunteer Bonnie Boddie is the rehoming co-ordinator for the Essex South, Southend and District branch.

The Mirror’s ‘Editors Choice’ Award went to The RSPCA’s East Winch Seal Rescue Project. After severe storms ravaged the Norfolk Coastline in December last year, more than 100 sick and orphaned seals were left needing round-the-clock care. The hardworking staff and volunteers at RSPCA East Winch wildlife centre nursed them back to health. It took more than five months of care and rehabilitation for the seals to be healthy enough to be released back into the sea.

The star-studded event also featured awards such as the Rescue Animal of the Year, Caring Animal Award, The Young Animal Enthusiast,  the Celebrity Supporter of the Year, The Public Service Animal and the Outstanding Business Award.

The awards were presented and attended by a glittering line-up of celebrities with a passion for animals and their welfare such as Paul OGrady; Brian May and Anita Dobson; actors Peter Egan, Helen Worth, Samia Ghadie and Shona McGarty; Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding; Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts; Deborah Meaden from Dragon’s Den, TV presenters Julia Bradbury and Liz Bonin; newsreader Emma Crosby and Ashleigh and Pudsey from Britains Got Talent.

Speaking at the star-studded award ceremony RSPCA trustee David Canavan said:
“I am deeply moved by the all animal heroes’ stories. An event like this shows the positive power of animals in all our lives and highlights the wonderful work of people who rescue, help and heal them.”

Notes for editors:

—  The full list of awards and their winners are available from the Daily Mirror events team. Please contact Chelsey Blake on 07917 636 826 or by email chelsey.blake@mgn.co.uk

—  For images, details of the two RSPCA winners, and opportunities for interview with them please contact the RSPCA press office on 0300 123 0244/0288 or email press@rspca.org.uk.