Crufts 2003 the busiest ever - says Maureen Hennis
PETS AS Therapys busiest Crufts ever. Thats the only way I can describe the PAT involvement in the 2003 event.
The PAT stand was a hive of activity throughout the four days. On day one, PAT Awareness Week was launched. This will take place between 1st-8th June during which supporters are organising events to raise awareness and support for the charity.
Several events have already been confirmed including the seminar by Jan Fennell, the Dog Listener, which will take place on Sunday 8th June at Banbury in Oxfordshire.
Tickets are £10 per session with morning and afternoon sessions. Tickets are available by contacting Jenny Orchard on 01295 811655.
The PAT Raise a Smile Money Box Appeal was launched on day two. Anyone can apply to the charity for a free pyramid style money box, in which you are asked to save 20p pieces. If you would like a free money box, contact Kate Swinhoe on 01873-851313.
The planned launch of our PAT Junior Club was on day three. Many youngsters had expressed a wish to become more involved in the work of Pets As Therapy and now they have their own special club. All members receive a certificate and junior badge on registration, they will then receive newsletters and information about any events taking place in their area that they would like to get involved with. The youngsters can then be buddied with a registered volunteer and go on an actual PAT visit to a hospital, residential home etc, with the permission of establishments and the junior members parents.
The very first junior member was 15-year-old Tom Hogan. Tom decided he wanted to do some special fundraising for Pets As Therapy and came up with the idea of trying to raise £5,000 in just one hour.
So many people wanted to be involved in the event that it became very apparent that the PAT stand just wasnt large enough to cope, therefore Iams stepped in and very kindly gave Pets As Therapy the use of their stand for one hour. At the relevant time, Vince Hogan of OUR DOGS counted down to start the hour. Maureen Hennis, director of Pets As Therapy was on the microphone, and for the hour continuously kept passers by informed as to what was happening. Dozens of PAT volunteers, accompanied by their PAT dogs and supporters were in the area with collecting boxes and buckets, including Robert Killick and young Tom Hogan himself.
A beat the clock style clock and a fundraising thermometer had been made Blue Peter style and this was topped up throughout the hour enabling people to see exactly how much time was left and how much was left to be collected to reach the target. Kevin Horkin kindly organised personalities who came along to give their support Pam St Clement (Pat, Eastenders); Katie Boyle; Cindy Marshall-Day (Tracy Booth, Crossroads); Lisa Maxwell (Samantha Nixon, The Bill); and Kacey Ainsworth (Little Mo, Eastenders); all kindly offered to sign autographs as long as people donated to the appeal.
With just two minutes to go, there was still £500 to raise to reach the target. Robin Sharpe, the External Relations Manager of Iams, approached Maureen Hennis and donated a £500 cheque at the last minute.
Thanks to Iams, Robert Killick, OUR DOGS, John Wright (Coaches to Shows), Pet Plan, Shaws, Blackpool Championship Show, and all the trade stand holders, exhibitors, PAT volunteers and general public who supported the appeal.
Special thanks must go to Tom Hogan, whose idea it was. Everyone was delighted. Toms target was reached. Five thousand pounds in one hour quite an achievement and one which will greatly benefit the Pets As Therapy charity.
Sunday dawned, and it was another day full of activity for Pets As Therapy. Maureen Hennis had been giving presentation on the Iams stand every day accompanied by two PAT dogs and their owners. On the last day, she was accompanied by Rev Chris Colledge and PAT Dog of the Year 2002, Topher, as well as Ann Quarrie with her PAT dog, Sweep. With Sweep was Phil Smith, who was to be guest of honour at the birthday party to be held on the Pets As Therapy stand later in the day. It was 20 years ago, to the day, since the inception of Pets As Therapy and whilst Maureen gave her presentation Iams set up a birthday cake out of her sight. Maureen has been involved with Pets As Therapy since the very start of the charity, and therefore it fell to her to blow out the candles on the cake.
On both Saturday and Sunday, parades of PAT dogs had been organised twice on each day. These took place in the Good Citizens Ring, and featured 12 working PAT dogs in each parade. The last parade on sunday featured PAT Dog of the Year, topher; Alan Parton and Endal, who is well known as the Dog of the Millennium for his work with Canine Partners. Few people know that Endal is also a registered PAT dog. Also in the ring was Sweep, with owner Ann Quarrie and Phil Smith, one of the patients Sweep visits.
Everyone then moved back to the Pets As Therapy stand where a beautiful birthday cake was to be cut by Phil Smith. Phil was blind from the age of eight and then was involved in a horrendous accident which left him unable to move any limbs, unable to speak or eat and in a wheelchair. Phil had been in hospital for two years, and was then moved to a residential home. He was introduced to PAT dog, Sweep, who started visiting him regularly. It gave Phil a new lease for life and he started to accompany Sweep every week to training classes.
When Phil heard that Sweep was going to Crufts to be in the Parade of PAT Dogs, he was determined to attend. Pets As Therapy decided to ask Phil to cut their 20th birthday cake which he did with the help of Ann Quarrie, the PAT volunteer who has become so involved with Phil that she can now use a system of communication used by Phil which consists of the alphabet and small nods of Phils head.
Pets As Therapy received a huge amount of help at Crufts, and would like to thank everyone involved for all your help and support.
Thoughts now turn to Crufts 2004 how Pets As Therapy are going to out do this year remains to be seen, but I am quite sure they will come up with something.