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Hounds for Heroes

Liphook’s Bramshott Place Village residents have clubbed together and raised over £800 for Hounds for Heroes, a new charity that benefits disabled men and women who have served in the armed forces and the emergency services. Its aim is to provide highly trained assistance dogs for these people, who have given service to their country and received terrible injury or trauma as a result.

Hounds for Heroes was founded by Allen Parton, who served with the Royal Navy during the first Gulf War and suffered severe physical and mental injuries on duty. When he left the Navy, his life, and that of his family, was transformed completely by the arrival of Endal, a young Labrador who helped Allen regain a considerable amount of independence and self-confidence, even though he is confined to a wheelchair. It was his partnership with this wonderful dog, sadly now deceased but replaced by Endal Junior or ‘EJ’, that led Allen to establish Hounds for Heroes.

His old friend Mrs Coulson and her husband happen to be Bramshott Place Village residents, and a few months ago it was her idea to invite Allen Parton to Bramshott to give an after dinner talk about Hounds for Heroes. This was a huge success. About 70 people gathered in the village Clubhouse to listen to him, and, as Mrs Coulson recalls, “Allen spoke for an hour, and throughout, no one made a sound. They were absolutely riveted.” Fundraising started that evening, with a raffle organised by Stirlings, the village restaurateurs, and donations from the Residents’ Association. Although it was Allen’s intention merely to create more awareness of the cause, in due course £804 was raised by Bramshott residents.

The money will go towards Hounds for Heroes’ ‘Puppies on Parade’ appeal, raising the £100,000 needed to buy and train five Labrador pups to serve the special needs of their human partners. The training is intense and produces incredible results. “The dogs are trained to think for themselves. They need to be able to know what action to take in any situation,” says Mrs Coulson. “For example, if someone falls out of their wheelchair, the dog can put them in the recovery position. They can find the person’s phone. They can go to people to get help.”

Less dramatically, but equally importantly, the assistance dogs make a big difference to domestic life. They can open a washing machine door, open cupboards, and help their owners to get dressed. “The dog helps the whole family by taking away some of the burden of looking after the disabled person,” Mrs Coulson explains. “In Allen’s case, it meant his wife could go to work, knowing he would be looked after by Endal.” Endal once even helped Allen at a bank cashpoint, taking the money in his mouth when Allen couldn’t reach it.

As Allen Parton found in his “magical partnership” with Endal, these very special dogs are a vital component in regaining dignity and a sense of self-worth, as well as helping to rebuild family relationships shattered by trauma. The human-canine bond is a strong one and can go a long way towards restoring the feelings of loyalty, trust and teamwork that are such an important feature of service life.

Although Hounds for Heroes is still in its early days, it has already achieved the approval and support of the armed forces and the British Legion. Once sufficient funds are available, the new puppy cadets will spend about 15 months with ‘parents’ for basic obedience training, then go on to more specialised training with their new partner. It is a long process and Hounds for Heroes supports the dog throughout its life.

Allen Parton says: “There are currently over 900,000 injured servicemen and women, and as a newly formed charity we’ve a huge and monumental task ahead of us. Every penny we receive has such a massive impact on our ability to meet the ever growing need and also helps us in the day to day operation of the charity.”

Bramshott Place Village residents are proud to be able to help. Bramshott Place Village is an award-winning development designed for independent retirement living within a community of like-minded people, and consists of two and three bedroom cottages and apartments surrounded by a park and woodland estate. Further information about the homes available for sale at Bramshott Place Village is available from the marketing suite on 01428 722800, or by visiting www.bramshottplace.co.uk

Further information about Hounds for Heroes is available from the website at www.houndsforheroes.com and call 01730 823118.

Article posted on: 19 July 2011

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