Sheffield-based national charity Support Dogs has held its first-ever reception event in London, as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations.
Celebrity supporters Angela Rippon and Martin Clunes joined guests at the glittering event at the prestigious premises of the Kennel Club in Piccadilly.
Patrons the Earl and Countess of Scarbrough and the International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt MP, also attended.
Support Dogs provides and trains assistance dogs for children with autism and adults with epilepsy and physical disability, and clients from all three of the charity’s programmes spoke about the impact the charity and their support dogs have had on their lives.
The event aimed to generate wider awareness of the charity and its need to increase the support for its work, so it can expand and help more people.
Chief executive Rita Howson said that in their 25th year Support Dogs were incredibly proud of what it had achieved, but was nevertheless faced with an overwhelming demand for its services.
“In comparison to other assistance dog charities in the UK we are incredibly underfunded, but the number of enquiries for our services doubled last year to over 3,600 from people desperate for our help. We are determined to do everything we can to help them,” she said.
Ms Howson added that that Support Dogs would reach its maximum capacity in its present premises in Brightside over the next three to five years, so were currently researching the feasibility of launching a capital appeal to raise funds that would to enable the charity to purchase or build a fit-for-purpose property.
Angela Rippon, who is Honorary President of Support Dogs, and whose involvement with the charity goes back to the 1990’s said, “Support Dogs was and still is a small charity wanting to make a difference, and that’s what I have always really liked about it. Its work with those amazing dogs has given so many people their independence back, and is truly life-transforming.”