A group of dedicated volunteers at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home have today been named as a recipient of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Volunteers from the leading animal welfare charity are to receive the prestigious award in recognition of the outstanding work they do in the local community by regularly visiting the retired servicemen and women at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Volunteers started visiting the Chelsea Pensioners with Battersea dogs back in 2011 and since then a wonderful relationship has developed between the two neighbouring institutions that has had a significant impact on all involved.
Each month a group of Battersea dogs don their blue Battersea coats and head over the Chelsea Bridge to the Royal Hospital. There they are eagerly awaited by its famous scarlet-coated residents, retired army servicemen who relish the opportunity to interact with the dogs, whether feeding them biscuits, gently stroking them, or enjoying an enthusiastic lick on the face.
The Battersea volunteers and dogs visit the pensioners in the infirmary or go into their room to keep them company and build strong relationships with everyone they meet. For many of these veterans, a visit from their four-legged friends is something to look forward to, particularly those who have owned dogs in the past but are now unable to have a pet. The companionship and joy these visits bring is also of great benefit to residents who may be lonely and without close family, and several keep dog biscuits in their rooms ready to give to their favourite Battersea dogs.
Charlotte Fielder, Battersea’s Head of Volunteering, Fostering & Communities said: “Battersea is absolutely thrilled that the work of this amazing and dedicated group of volunteers has been recognised with a Queens Award for Voluntary Service. We couldn’t be more proud of our caring, kind and compassionate volunteers who regularly take Battersea dogs to visit the Chelsea Pensioners, offering both human and canine companionship. It’s heart-warming to witness the joy these visits can bring”.
Battersea volunteer Katie Morgan with Chelsea Pensioner visitor Bonnie
Battersea volunteer Katie Morgan, who has been visiting the Royal Hospital Chelsea with Battersea dogs since 2011, added: “It’s a real honour to receive this award for doing something that is so beneficial for all involved. We always receive a very warm welcome from the Chelsea Pensioners, staff, volunteers and visitors and the dogs absolutely love meeting everyone, especially as there are more than a few treats ready and waiting for them. We’ve made some wonderful friends over the years and hope to make many more.”
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the winners are announced on 2 June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.