ITV news presenter Lucrezia Millarini has been announced as a patron of Support Dogs.

The canine-loving broadcast journalist became first involved with the charity in 2020 when she presented its annual graduation ceremony to celebrate the successful completion of training of its latest life-saving support dogs. She recently won more than £15,000 for the charity on ITV quiz show Celebrity Catchphrase.

Established in 1992, Support Dogs is a charity dedicated to providing and training specialist assistance dogs to save and improve the lives of children and adults affected by autism, epilepsy and physical disabilities.

Lucrezia, who has her own pet Lhasa Apso called Milo, said she was in awe of the charity’s life-changing work.

Lucrezia explains: “Support Dogs is a wonderful charity. It not only saves lives but transforms the independence and quality of life for the whole family.  I am constantly amazed by what these dogs (of all shapes and sizes) are capable of!

“As the proud human of my own Lhasa, I had no idea this particular breed could even be an assistance dog. Until I met the tiny, but mighty, Tinkerbell: no ordinary pet, she received special training from Support Dogs and now provides essential help to her owner Charlie. Whether it's opening doors or picking up dropped phones, Tinkerbell is the perfect companion. 

“The bond between Charlie and Tinkerbell is just one example of the many successful partnerships Support Dogs has helped forge between dog and human. And as we hopefully wave goodbye to the worst challenges of the pandemic, I hope to be involved in more exciting projects to raise awareness and much needed funding.  Roll on 2022!

 Support Dogs trains epilepsy seizure alert dogs to provide a 100% reliable warning up to an hour before an epileptic seizure

It also trains autism assistance dogs to provide and safety and facilitate a more inclusive and active life for a child with autism and their whole family. They help to reduce stress and anxiety while also help to support the child with day-day tasks.

The charity’s disability assistance dogs provide safety and greater independence for people affected by a wide range of disabilities including MS, cerebral palsy and fibromyalgia. For this programme Support Dogs trains a client’s own existing pet dog to become their disability assistance dog, such as lovely Tinkerbell, who has been trained for her client Charli.

Support Dogs also works with rescue centres, with 1 in 4 of the dogs it trains joining the charity from rescue or as unwanted pet dog. The charity gives those dogs who may not have had the easiest starts in life to reach their potential and become a support dog and someone’s super hero.

The charity faces an overwhelming demand for its services, which it provides free of charge. The charity relies entirely on voluntary donations and fundraising have been badly affected during lockdown

 Support Dogs’ chief executive Rita Howson said: “We’re honoured and delighted to welcome Lucrezia as our newest patron. She’s joining us at such an important time for our charity as we strive to move forward and significantly grow our charity to train more dogs and save and improve the lives of many more families.”