Support Dogs’ Graduation and Awards ceremony at the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria in Sheffield is both a celebration of the successful completion of the training of human/canine partnerships, and a thank you to the charity’s many supporters, including clients and volunteers.

Three young boys with autism, four disability clients and a seizure alert client with epilepsy who have graduated over the past 12 months will be recognised. Awards to be handed out include fundraiser of the year, foster carer of the year and client partnership of the year.

It is also be an opportunity to meet some of the charity’s first puppies that have come through the new puppy breeding scheme, set up to help recruit more dogs  to meet the overwhelming need for Support Dogs’ services.

Guest speaker was Professor Daniel Mills, a veterinary behaviour expert from the University of Lincoln.

 Graduates and award-winners this year include:

  • Autism assistance partnerships Sam Mills and Willow from Sheffield, Alex Duthie and Chester from Leeds and Louis Neylon and Iggy from Hull.
  • Seizure alert partnership Ann Watson and Barney from Doncaster.

 This year’s ceremony was due to be be attended by more than 200 people including Master Cutler Nicholas Cragg. Sponsors are Sheffield Mutual and Switalskis Solicitors.

Fundraising manager Danny Anderson said: “Some of the dogs that graduate have come to us from more difficult starts in life, and we are proud to be able to give them a second chance to prove their amazing potential.

 It can take approximately 18 months to train a support dog partnership and so our graduation is very much a celebration and recognition of the hard work of our clients, volunteers, staff and of course our dogs, in completing this process.

 “It also marks the start of a life-changing, working partnership between the support dog and their clients that will last approximately eight years.”