He may look like a cuddly toy, but underneath his cute exterior, Rigby has an incredible story to tell.
This toy was made available by The Royal British Legion to praise the work of one very special dog. Normally associated with Remembrance, the charity also helps today’s Armed Forces families and the toy is inspired by one of their beneficiaries – Jake and his Autism Assistance Dog Rigby.
Simon Gill and his wife Jo both served in the Royal Military Police and have two sons, Ben and Jake, who is autistic. Jake suffers with anxiety and struggles to cope in crowded places. Whilst researching strategies that might improve his condition, the family discovered that dogs can be trained to provide safety and companionship, which could help bring independence and a more socially inclusive life to children with autism.
They contacted the Legion who worked with other organisations to help pay for a trained puppy, and now the family have Rigby – named after a character in one of Jake’s favourite cartoons.
Says Simon, “Jake’s confidence has grown a lot since he first met Rigby. Jake adores Rigby and likes going out for walks with him, which is something he wouldn’t really do before as he didn’t like crowded places. It’s little things like going to watch his brother Ben play football – normally Jake wouldn’t do that but he’s keen to come along with Rigby now. Rigby has made such a huge difference to our lives and has had a massive impact on Jake – they have a very strong bond and we look forward to sharing many more happy family times together.”
To celebrate the story and help raise funds for The Royal British Legion, The Poppy Shop, the charity’s official store, is now giving everyone the chance to own their very own Rigby. All profits will go directly to the Legion and their important work in providing care and support to families like the Gill’s.