Soldiering On

Soldiering On Awards - Meet The Furry Finalists For The Animal Partnership Award

It's not long before the Soldiering On Awards announce who will take home the Animal Partnership prize...

It's not long before the Soldiering On Awards announce who will take home the Animal Partnership prize.

The Awards don't just honour servicemen, women and those who support them.

They also honour the animals who serve the Armed Forces and veterans through the Animal Partnership Award, sponsored by Pets at Home.

The award is in recognition of the unique companionship and support provided by animal partners and the achievements of organisations who support the Armed Forces community.

Get to know the finalists below before the winner is announced on Friday...

Service Dogs UK: Mark Lanchbery & Jerry 


Service Dogs UK is a charity that not only offers help and support to servicemen and women but also gives a purpose and loving home to rescue dogs across the country.

The charity trains & provides assistance dogs, from rescue, to support members of the Armed Forces & emergency services with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mark Lanchbery served in the Army. After being injured in conflict he was advised that he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Eventually, he was able to walk with the aid of a stick and without a wheelchair, however.

He went on to push himself to new limits and with his 'Band of Brothers' competed at the 'Warrior Games', representing the UK in archery.

During a counselling session, Mark was diagnosed with PTSD. Living alone, he began training with loyal companion Jerry of Service Dogs UK and they became a successful assistance dog partnership team in September 2016.

Mark is now enrolled in the charity's mentor programme and is dedicating his time, effort and skills to helping to run its training programme.

He is highly respected by the other veterans involved, and rightly so. Recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), Mark continues to battle on, providing strength, hope and inspiration to all those around him.

He is nominated for his indomitable spirit, his kindness and the genuine love for his fellow veterans which motivates him to give so much of himself for them.

Bravehound: Paul Wilkie & Irma 


Soldiering On Animal Partnership Award finalist Bravehound veteran & dog

Bravehound is a Scottish charity supporting former servicemen and women and their families, providing trained dogs to support veterans.

Paul was a Royal Engineer, serving in Ireland, Bosnia and the Falklands.

A few years ago Paul began suffering PTSD very badly when thoughts and experiences of past times started to debilitate him.

His marriage broke down and he became homeless, living in a tent in the woods until a chance encounter saw Bravehound stepping in and giving him a home and a dog called Irma, designed to support the relief from symptoms of PTSD.

Paul's animal partner kick-started a belief in himself. Irma awakens Paul when he has flashbacks and has never left his side in hospital other than when he has been in intensive care.

At one point he was in a coma for 10 days after medical issues took hold and was given 36 hours to live.

But Irma stayed by his side. Paul made it through, meanwhile, and now they both have a companion in North – one of three ducks. They also have a cat.

Caring for them has helped Paul tremendously and he is now getting life back on track.

Veterans for Wildlife


Veterans for Wildlife is an international charity which enables veterans to aid in the prevention of wildlife crime, with its mission to protect, educate and empower.

It aims to develop the skill-sets and operational effectiveness of anti-poaching rangers.


Their programmes are tailored towards helping veterans transition into civilian life, while continuing to make a positive impact on society.

The charity deploys highly trained and skilled former service personnel to provide support against poaching and trafficking of some of the planet's most endangered species.

In doing so it aims to play a key role in conservation and the prevention of wildlife crime.

By using veterans the charity believes it helps them both mentally and physically in adjusting to civilian life, while realising their self-worth.

More: Veteran Who Liberated Dutch Town On A Bicycle Dies Aged 93