Of the 12 categories of Soldiering On Awards up for grabs, one category that engages everyone is the Animal Partnership one.
So who do you know that relies on the support of their animal partner, or uses animals to benefit the wider military community?
The Animal Partnership Award
What’s it for?
This Award recognises and honours the unique relationships and companionship provided by animals, as well as the achievements of individuals or organisations engaged with animals that support or empower members of the Armed Forces Community.
The Winner of this Award will be decided by a public vote. They will receive increased publicity, so whoever you nominate has the chance of promoting their animal partner’s special skills on a very wide scale.
Who should I nominate?
If you know of anyone who benefits from having an animal that helps them cope with everyday life, you could consider nominating them – or the organisation that trained and provided the animal. Or you may know of an organisation or charity that uses animals to help military personnel in some way and for any reason.
So who do you know? The following examples might help you to decide…
Who’s won previously?
Our 2017 Winner was HorseBack UK. This wonderful organisation uses horsemanship to inspire recovery, regain self-esteem and provide a sense of purpose and community to wounded, injured and sick ex-military personnel.
Jock Hutchinson, CEO and co-founder of HorseBack UK told us that:
“For any charity to receive recognition is a fantastic boost for the whole team. HorseBack UK has helped more than 1200 veterans over the past decade, and it’s all about team work.
After leaving the military, people often feel isolated. They may have originally signed up for the teamwork and camaraderie of being in the forces, and suddenly finding themselves as a veteran can be tough. HorseBack UK helps to reconnect those who are isolated, and gives them a feeling of being back in control that they might have missed since leaving service.”
Jock can’t speak highly enough of how winning the award has motivated the HorseBack UK team.
“Being nominated helps charities to recharge their batteries – it re-motivates everyone. Charities can often feel forgotten, but the Soldiering On Award thrust us into the limelight and we found ourselves celebrating in London.
Without the help of the Soldiering On Awards we could easily be forgotten – this kind of support raises our profile and keeps us surviving!”
Celebrating their tenth anniversary recently, the team were delighted to welcome HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – known in Scotland, where Horseback UK is based, as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay. They’ve also enjoyed the support of former Prime Minister Teresa May who, at the time, only followed seven accounts on Twitter; one of which was Horseback UK.
The 2018, Award was won by Service Dogs UK, a charity that provides specially trained assistance dogs for serving or retired members of the armed forces and emergency services who suffer from PTSD.
Garry Botterill, co-founder of Service Dogs UK, speaks with passion about their success at the Soldiering On Awards:
“Winning the Soldiering On Award in 2018 was a great boost for us and it was nice to get recognition for the work and effort that we had put in to making our PTSD Assistance Dog charity such a success.
Being both nominated and winning helped to raise awareness about what we do and increased the amount of interest that we subsequently had from veterans and volunteers. We rely on donations to continue with the programme, and being highlighted as winners raised our profile and made us more visible so our fundraising campaign reached more people.
Pets at Home were really marvellous at running features about us and, as one of their ‘Lifeline’ charities, we were able to benefit from their VIP programme and purchase hundreds of pounds worth of items for our dogs and veterans.
The award night itself was an astounding event and we were thrilled to appear alongside such wonderful people who do so much to help our veterans. It was an unforgettable experience we will all treasure. Thank you to the wonderful organisers who were so helpful throughout.”
And our most recent Winner – in 2019 – was Bravehound, a charity that provides training and dogs to support veterans and their families. PC Dave Wardell, attending awards night with Finn – named as the ‘world’s bravest dog’, told us about the animals that had been nominated.
“I know just how special these animals are and the difference they can make to our lives. It’s great that we can come to places like this and celebrate what they’ve done and their achievements.”
Dr Robert Hewings, Senior Dog Trainer for Bravehound, explains one reason why the dogs are so incredible.
“I was absolutely speechless [to win the award] – it makes you realise that animals are lifechanging… We can train our dogs to recognise the scent of nightmares and wake up the person from that nightmare. They allow people to go to sleep without having to self-medicate.”
There have been seven winners in the Animal Partnership category, including organisations as well as individual veterans and their service dogs.
So… Who do you know?
If you know someone and their animal partner, or an organisation that works with animals to support the military community why not nominate them now and give them a chance of being a winner.
This Award is generously sponsored once again by Pets at Home. Sarah Woodward, Business Development Manager at Pets at Home, told us: “Knowing how the pets and animals within this category influence lives so positively, it’s perfect for us to be involved.” Speaking at the 2019 Awards Night, she confirmed, “Pets at Home VIP Club celebrates the special bond between pets and their owners. We understand how important and influential a pet can be on an owner’s life as a valued member of the family. Pets at Home is proud to sponsor the Animal Partnership Category in testimony to the positive impact pets have had on the lives of their exceptional owners and the wider veteran community that they have helped.”
You can see all previous winners on our website by clicking on the Awards tab then selecting previous award from the drop-down menu and choosing a year.
It will be fantastic if you can help to spread the word by sharing this blog to make sure as many people as possible have the opportunity to nominate whoever they feel deserves an Award! These tags may help if you’re sharing on social media: #SOA2020 #soldieringonawards #animalpartners