Nicky and Edgar Percival deserve an award for looking after more than 15 dogs in just five years - and now they’ve won one!

The dog-loving retired couple from Millhouses in Sheffield have been volunteer foster carers for Support Dogs, caring for the most challenging dogs, many of whom have gone on to become life-transforming assistance dogs for people with autism, epilepsy and physical disability.

Now, to thank for them for their fantastic efforts, the charity has named Nicky and Edgar as their foster carers of the year at its annual graduation and awards ceremony.

Many of the dogs the couple have fostered are ‘assessment’ dogs – those animals who come in for a four-week trial to see if they have the potential to become a professional assistance dog.

 “You never know what to expect – some of the dogs we’ve looked after were totally untrained, and completely unsuitable to be assistance dogs, but some have been absolutely beautiful dogs who slotted straight in and went on to have great futures,” said Nicky.

One of the dogs they fostered, Wadsley, pictured above and right, went on to become a real star, providing a young woman with epilepsy with 100 per cent guaranteed advance warnings of oncoming seizures.

Nicky and Edgar, who started foster caring when they retired five years ago, looked after curly coated retriever Bess for nine months during lockdown, and credit her with helping them get through the ordeal, going on regular walks in Millhouses Park and Ecclesall Woods.

Currently without a dog – although probably not for long – Nicky added: “All the dogs we’ve looked after are so intelligent, and it’s so rewarding when it goes right. We love being involved with Support Dogs.”

Chief executive Rita Howson said: “We rely very much on our of volunteers and people like Nicky and Edgar are our absolute life blood. We couldn’t do what we do in training our amazing dogs to transform lives without people like them. They fully deserve to win our foster carer of the year award.”

Support Dogs is a national charity based in Sheffield that trains assistance dogs for children and adults with autism, epilepsy and a variety of medical conditions, enabling them to lead safer, more independent lives.

None of the dogs it trains ever spends a night in kennels, instead staying with its volunteer puppy socialisers and foster carers in and around the city.