For Liz Hambley, a simple task like eating an apple can be dangerous. The 69-year-old suffers from hypoglycaemia, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, making her prone to sudden unconsciousness.

“It’s like I’m asleep, every time I eat or drink, it just hits me. I have a terrible aversion to eating because it makes me pass out and feel so ill.”

Her conditions have made it nearly impossible for her to leave the house. But since getting Russell, a three-year-old black Labrador trained by Support Dogs, her life has changed dramatically. Russell helps with tasks like putting laundry in
 the washing machine and fetching the phone, and he provides crucial emotional support.

“The dogs give you confidence because you don’t feel so alone when you go out. “People think you’re drunk during an attack, but with a dog, they’re more likely to help.”

Liz’s husband, Alan, has dementia, and her grandson, Charlie, has Asperger’s syndrome, making Russell’s companionship even more vital. “It gets you up out of bed,” Liz says. “I try to get out as much as possible because of him.”

Nicknamed ‘Rascal’ for his playful nature, Russell joined Liz after her previous support dogs, Bonnie and Duffy, had passed and retired. Russell has been with Liz since September and even helps her get ready for bed each night.

“If I had a spare million, they could have it,” Liz says, praising the charity. “They are amazing. We do things every day because of them, and we’re so grateful.”