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Wonderful celebrations at the Pets As Therapy
20th Anniversary Ball

Terry Pearson presents a 'thank you for 20 years' to Maureen Hennis

Throughout 2003 Pets As Therapy have been celebrating the 20th Birthday of the formation of the Charity. A Grand 20th Anniversary Charity Ball was the final event of the year and was held at the Eden Arms Hotel near Durham. The Ball was organised by Pets As Therapy's

Northern Committee and each guest was presented on arrival with a yellow rose bound in a yellow ribbon bearing a small picture of 'Sweep' the PAT Dog of the Year.

The roses were a gift from Ann & Bob Quarrie the owners of Sweep. Bob also acted as our official photographer for the evening. A Northumbrian Piper played whilst guests gathered and the function room looked stunning as everyone entered down the steps from the bar/reception area. The lights had been dimmed to gain full impact from the candles and helium filled balloons, which decorated the tables. The colour theme was, of course, Pets As Therapy yellow and flowers, napkins, balloons etc. all followed the theme.

Master of ceremonies Ian Layfield looked resplendent in his official red coat and his first duty of the evening was to announce Grace, which was said by Terry Pearson, Treasurer of the Northern Branch of Pets As Therapy. Everyone then sat to partake of a delicious meal during which two magicians circulated the room performing 'Table Magic'. George the magician and the amazing Mr. Martin Duffy delighted the guests and left many people wanting to know - "How did he do that?" At one point during the meal two chimney sweeps wandered into the room and went around all the guests shaking them by the hand and passing on 'good luck'.

Just as coffee was being served the Master of Ceremonies called on me as the Director of Pets As Therapy in the North of England and Scotland to make a speech.

All guests were welcomed, volunteers, Area Co-ordinators, supporters and friends from throughout the U.K. Special welcomes were made to Jenny Orchard one of the Pets As Therapy Trustees and Kate Swinhoe the director for Wales and the South West, and also to Robin Sharpe from Iams with thanks for all the help that they have given Pets As Therapy.

Recently Iams have been supplying help to the Pets As Therapy Junior Club and Robin Sharpe was presented with a certificate making him an honorary member. After thanking all the volunteers present for all their hard work by visiting in the Hospitals, Residential Homes, Special Needs Schools etc. I had been asked to present a special award on behalf of South Tyneside Hospital to Abbi Adair who visits in that hospital with her two Newfoundland PAT dogs B.J. and Darcy.

The Committee of the Northern Branch were then thanked for organising the Anniversary Ball. A beautifully decorated 20th Anniversary Cake had been provided by Pets As Therapy co-ordinators Terry & Tom Bolan, complete with yellow roses and PAT logo. This was cut by Jenny Orchard, Kate Swinhoe and myself, then whisked away to the kitchen to be cut into portions for everyone to enjoy with their coffee. My speech finished with a toast to Pets As Therapy.

Surprisingly things then started to happen that I had no prior knowledge of. Terry Pearson was introduced and made a speech I will always remember. It was very touching, moving and embarrassing for me as he spoke of my involvement in the Charity for the last 20 years. I was then presented with a beautiful yellow bouquet.

But it didn't finish there. I was then asked to walk across the room to where Phil Smith was sitting in his wheelchair waiting to present two very special gifts to me. Many people will know Phil, he nominated this years PAT Dog of the Year for 'helping him to live again'. Phil is blind, totally paralysed from the neck down and cannot even eat for himself. He has become one of Pets As Therapy's most ardent supporters and was determined to be at the Anniversary Ball. I will long remember the grin, from ear to ear, on Phil's face as he presented the gifts. On opening them I found a very special embroidered picture of many breeds of dogs surrounding a Pets As Therapy logo. So many hours of work must have gone into this embroidery and my thanks go to Gill Pearson the talented embroiderer.

The other gift was a stunning crystal vase complete with Pets as Therapy logo, my name and '20 years of caring and sharing'. I will treasure it all the days of my life.
Thank you Northern Committee your kindness is very much appreciated.

It was then onto the Charity Auction. Forty lots, all of which had been donated, were auctioned very professionally and with lots of fun by our M.C. Ian Layfield. When we got to item 40 Ian said he couldn't find the last auction item. It was then that Santa Clause and Mrs Clause entered the room and proceeded to go round and give a small gift to everyone present.

The last auction item was in fact a 30 minute visit from Santa and Mrs Clause to any children's party. Training class, school etc.. It was donated by a company called -
The Enchantment Factory and was bought by Paul Nutley who promptly gave the prize to the children's ward at South Tyneside Hospital.

Auction over it was straight on with the dancing to the Cashel Ceilidh Band who had most people dancing by the end of the evening. Even once the Ball finished some people were reluctant to leave and the party seemed to move to the bar and continued well into the early hours of the following day. I will long remember Abbi Adair's rendition of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the celebrations but as I write this I wonder - Where did the last 20 years go, but not to dwell on that, here's to the next 20 years of caring and sharing our wonderful animals and visiting with Pets As Therapy.