Pet therapy

111. Susan Perks (Leicester)

Susan Perks has volunteered with Pets as Therapy for the past six years, giving positive and calming support to patients in three Leicester hospitals; The Royal Infirmary, Evington Mental Health Unit and Leicester Brain Injury Unit.

Susan and Holly, her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, support physiotherapists in rehabilitating patients with varying medical Susan and Holly visit the hospitals twice a week, spending quality time with up to 36 grateful patients recovering from operations or with long term conditions. Holly patiently allows individuals to stroke and pat her and is a welcome face for the patients she helps, especially those missing their own pets and those who would not otherwise receive any visitors. Susan and Holly’s soothing approach is especially welcome when dealing with patients with complex needs and those needing mental health care, helping to improve co-ordination, communication and interaction skills for those they visit.

Pets as Therapy, a national charity founded in 1983, is based in the community providing therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices and care homes as well as special needs schools from volunteers with their pet dogs and cats. Today there are over 5,000 active Pets as Therapy working with their volunteers across the country, and Susan and Holly are a shining example of the amazing work that the charity does.

In addition to helping those in hospital, Susan and Holly also provide reassurance to students at Leicester University facing major exams, providing stress relief tips and respite from hard studies.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Dealing with serious illness can be stressful and isolating. Susan and her dog Holly bring a little light into the lives of those facing these challenges, providing much needed comfort and companionship. I’m delighted to recognise Susan as a Point of Light”.

Susan said:

“Pets as Therapy is a wonderful charity that enables Holly and I to meet many vulnerable people and bring good news to them. We find patients with low esteem, loneliness and other anxieties and try to bring happiness back into their lives. It is a marvellous experience just to see someone smile or react in a positive way when they have not been able to do so for years. I feel humbled yet honoured at receiving the award”.

Chief Executive of Pets as Therapy, Lisa Coles said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Susan and Holly have been awarded this honour; they are both such a credit to Pets As Therapy, working tirelessly to bring comfort to so many people and to raise much needed funds. We are so proud of them both”.

Liz Kendall MP said:

“I’m really pleased that Susan has won this prestigious award and we mustn’t forget the other half of this fabulous double act, her dog Holly. Together, they’ve given so much, to help so many.

“Susan is a shining example of the thousands of fantastic volunteers we have in Leicester West. Day in, day out, these unsung heroes give up their time and energy to transform the lives of those around them, making a huge contribution to our City.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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