Introduced by Simon Cowell, Brit nominee Billie Marten opened the annual Guide Dogs awards ceremony at the festive Park Lane Hilton Hotel, London, hosted by Adrian Chiles.
Celebrity awards presenters included Debbie Douglas from TOWIE, boxing legend Audley Harrison and England rugby Captain, Chris Robshaw, who shared the stage with deserving owners and their guide dogs rewarded for their life-changing partnerships and acts of inspiration.
Guide dog Laila can help her owner with OCD and panic disorder
Imogen Godwin and her guide dog Laila were presented with the beyond the call of duty award in partnership with Specsavers. The award recognised Laila’s ability to help Imogen cope with mental health issues in her day to day life, including obsessive compulsive disorder and a panic disorder.
Guide Dog Waffle helps Monica
Monica McGill and her guide dog Waffle were awarded the life-Changing Partnership award in partnership with Specsavers. Monica lost her sight in her mid-thirties due to a faulty gene has since battled depression and panic attacks, which left her scared to leave the house and go to work. Since being partnered with Waffle two and half years ago, Monica no longer suffers from panic attacks and now copes well with busy environments and last year went on holiday for the first time in 13 years.
Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, said: ‘We have supported Guide Dogs for a number of years and are proud to continue our support for these awards. It is so important that we all understand and recognise the amazing work that Guide Dogs does to help people rebuild and lead normal lives, something many of us take for granted.’
Top TV sports presenter Adrian Chiles, said: ‘These awards applaud the amazing achievements of guide dogs and their owners as well as some of the fantastic people and organisations that make Guide Dogs’ life-changing work possible. I know what a difference a guide dog can make to someone’s life and I’m delighted to be part of the annual event honouring that unique bond.’
Richard Leaman, Guide Dogs’ Chief Executive, said: ‘The Guide Dogs Annual Awards are a highlight of the year for us. We heard about guide dog owners who have overcome enormous personal challenges. We heard about campaigners who were not afraid to stand up and demand that things change. We heard about experts using their specialist knowledge to help people with sight loss. We met young people with the energy and creativity to make things happen.
‘In my five years at Guide Dogs, I have witnessed the huge difference we have made and continue to make to the lives of people living with sight loss. Every moment of the day Guide Dogs is helping people like Verity get to where they want to be in life, and the awards evening is a truly inspiring occasion which reminds us of how life-changing our work is.’