The dynamic duo, Allen Parton and his faithful Canine Partner Endal, flew up to Scotland recently to present their first ever "An evening with Allen and Endal" to raise much needed funds for SSAFA Forces help and Dumfries and Galloway Canine Rescue Centre.
The two veterans of travel passed through Heathrow Airport where they have become very well known because of their appearances on the BBC Airport programme and their regular use of the airport for trips up and down the country. Allen said " I will admit that Endal's celebrity status is wonderful, especially when it comes to travelling. The kindness shown to us both is really humbling at times, I really can't thank everyone enough for making our journey to Scotland so effortless. Endal still manages to look every part the seasoned traveller, even at 32,000ft."
Allen Parton, a Royal Navy gulf war veteran who suffered a head injury in the 1991 war which left him with severe physical and mental trauma, wheelchair bound and with short and long term memory problems, Endal who hardly needs an introduction these days, is his loyal helping hound, who has been enabling Allen every day for the last 8 years. He says "Endal and I are really living our lives to the full, not daring to waste a minute. So when the invitation came for us to be part of this fund raising evening we agreed enthusiastically.... though I did wonder how many people knew when they booked their tickets that their speaker for the evening was someone who couldn't talk at all only seven years ago"
Sandra, my wife, always reminds me to look over my shoulder and remember all those people and organisations that are so much a part of our success story. One of the main reasons that I could have Endal in the very early days of our partnership was due to SSAFA buying me a special powered wheelchair which enabled me to exercise "his lordship" and get out and about. This is one of the reasons why I was so delighted to have been asked to work with SSAFA last year at Crufts. SSAFA were chosen as one of the Kennel Club's human charities of the year and over the four day event Allen and Endal helped ‘man’ the stand. Being able to volunteer our services in this way was made all the more poignant because of current world conflicts going on all around us.
Another bonus of this Scottish visit was being able to support a canine charity "Dumfries & Galloway Canine Rescue Centre", an organisation obviously very close to our hearts. I always hope through the sharing of our story that people will think of dogs as four legged people too, valuing them for what they can do and recognising their place in our lives. It was wonderful to see the two organisations working so well together and putting on such a special event in this way.
The event, which took place at Barony College, Dumfries, was well publicised. The Scottish papers and the local radio stations (BBC Radio Scotland Dumfries, Radio Southwest Sound) carried articles throughout the week. In front of a packed auditorium Allen took the audience on an amazing emotional journey with the telling of his story, from just before he sailed to the Gulf war, to present times in partnership with Endal. Throughout the talk one could have heard a pin drop, people totally focused on every word. Hankies were brought out to wipe away the tears during some of the sadder moments of the talk, but great roars of laughter filled the hall during the telling of Endal's exploits. The audience really were taken on an incredible roller coaster ride of emotions.
Allen said "I really never know from one week to the next where Endal will take me and this event has to rank as one of our major milestones. I will admit to actually feeling more nervous in front of this audience than during our appearance in front of 17 million people as one of the „Hero Dog‰ nominees at this year‚s Crufts. I had no need to worry though because the gathered folk were very kind, had an immense compassion for dogs and they all wore their hearts on their sleeves".
Event organisers Elizabeth and Ken Maclachlan commented:
"This event certainly raised the profile locally of both charities - SSAFA Forces Help and the Dumfries & Galloway Canine Rescue Centre. Both the charities are very grateful to Allen & Endal for their talk and demonstration on the evening which left almost 400 people amazed and inspired with the mutual devotion of this Gulf War Veteran and his Canine Partner"
‘I feel that so many people have enabled me to have a quality of life that I thought was lost to me for ever. Events like this enable me to give something back and hopefully help others in the process. It really has been such an honour to have been considered worthy enough to be a guest speaker...I am still in a daze over it all’ said Allen.
What next? Allen said "I really don't know, but Endal and I are helping each other to have such an amazing time. Together there really are no limits to what we can achieve in this partnership’.