Sponsored by Pets at Home

About this Award…

An award to honour the unique relationships and companionship provided by animals, and/or the achievements of individuals or organisations engaged with animals that support and empower members of the Armed Forces Community.  The winner of this award will be chosen through a public vote.

The judges will be looking for evidence of:

  • An engaging story behind the animal/human relationships, how they have been established and why people do what they do.
  • What benefits are provided for the human partners; what challenges have they now been able to overcome and how.
  • Great examples of achievements and impact of wonderful animal relationships and companionship for themselves or others in the Armed Forces Community.
  • The different or unique characteristics that sets this relationship and companionship apart from others and therefore makes this nomination special.

This award is suitable for a person, team or animal companion.

Meet our 2021 Winner!

Bella, the Bichon Frise rescue dog and British Army veteran Barry Coase

Beautiful Bella Bichon came into Barry’s life in 2015 at the age of 21 weeks, following a traumatic start in life. Filthy, fearful and feral, she crawled towards Barry and lay shaking. It was immediately obvious that there was something very special about this little dog.

Animal Partnership Award

After leaving the army in 1991, Barry suffered constant pain, insomnia, sadness and depression, and was later diagnosed with CPTSD. He became shy, introverted and angry.

Beautiful Bella Bichon came into his life in 2015 at the age of 21 weeks, following a traumatic start in life. Filthy, fearful and feral, she crawled towards Barry and lay shaking. It was immediately obvious that there was something very special about this little dog. During the night, as Bella became aware that Barry was struggling with nightmares, she licked his neck, soothing and helping him to settle.

Barry’s confidence quickly grew. Bella passed her Pets as Therapy assessment in 2016 and then qualified as an owner-trained Assistance Dog. The duo began volunteering locally at hospitals and schools, then Barry became confident enough to give talks on Animal-Assisted Therapies for Palliative Care, End of Life moments, Intensive Care and Children’s Wards. 

Barry missed the comradery of army life and knew that other veterans may be struggling too. He approached Combat Stress to offer his and Bella’s support. Within weeks they became an essential part of the Clinical Therapeutic Team.

Barry and Bella said:

Barry Coase: “I am absolutely over the moon! I only do this work because I want to – we’re trying to help people all the time. I’d like to thank the panel and the people who voted for us – it means a lot to us all!

“On Saturday we’re working at nationwide building society promoting Combat Stress and fundraising. The next Saturday we’re out fundraising too. We’ll just keep going, obviously COVID-19 has stopped a lot of the work we do – the hospital visits, intensive care, children’s wards – all that stopped, but we’ll still keep promoting what we do. As long as veterans are dying from suicide then we’ve got to keep going, that’s the driving force.

“It’s normal to Bella! She’s been doing it since she was 9 months – she loves everybody.”

Previous Winners:

2020 – Chris Lewis and Jet

2019 – Bravehound

2018 – Mark Lanchbery and Jerry

2017 – Jock Hutchison and Horseback UK