Hospital pooch in the running for top national award

Leo

A therapy dog based at Southampton’s teaching hospitals is in the running for a top national award for his work with patients who are recovering from illness or injury.

Three-year-old golden retriever Leo, who makes three visits a week to wards at Southampton Children’s Hospital and Southampton General Hospital with owner Lyndsey Uglow, has been shortlisted for HiLife Pets As Therapy (PAT) Dog of the Year.

The award, run by Yours Magazine, recognises the work of the PAT charity, which oversees therapeutic visits from 4,500 dogs and 108 cats to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues across the UK every week.

Leo and Lyndsey are University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust’s most soughtafter volunteers, receiving more requests for visits to patients and staff than any of the other 1,000 volunteers within the organisation.

Last year Leo, who qualified for the role of PAT dog aged just nine months due to his excellent temperament, received a special award – a bone-shaped certificate – from the voluntary services team for his exceptional effort to improve patients’ experiences.

He was also invited to represent PAT at the House of Lords in January and, more recently, seen on Channel 4’s Supervet Summer in the Field with Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, which looked at the bond developed between Leo and his friend Becky during her time in hospital.

Lyndsey, whose husband Mike is consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton Children’s Hospital, began volunteering with Leo to give something back to the hospital which saved her son’s life.

Ollie, now 16, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2008. After almost six months of chemotherapy treatment, his disease went into remission and he received the all-clear in December 2011.

“We have such a strong connection with Southampton for so many reasons, so it is great to be able to give something back and bring a smile to the faces of so many people,” said Lyndsey.

“Leo took to the role of PAT dog the moment he walked through the hospital doors and this nomination demonstrates just what a difference his visits are making to patients, their families and staff every week.”

Kim Sutton, voluntary services manager at UHS, said: “Lyndsey and Leo epitomise the role of volunteers – they bring enjoyment to patients, make them happy and help them to battle through what can be very difficult and exhausting times.”

An online public vote is now open to decide the winner of HiLife PAT Dog of the Year award. Register your vote here.

Posted on Thursday 15 October 2015