Young patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) were treated to some furry, four-legged festivities when ITV presenter Paul O’Grady paid a Christmas visit with some of his friends from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home on Friday 1 December.
Paul, an ambassador for the Home, joined staff from the animal charity as they introduced the children to some of Battersea’s residents who are hoping to find a home in time for Christmas.
One of the dogs they enjoyed a Christmas cuddle with was Wilma, a four-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, who will appear in ITV’s Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs at Christmas on Christmas Day.
Wilma arrived at Battersea’s London centre in September. She was found in a field with two puppies, underweight, and suffering from a skin condition that had left her skin red raw. Staff at the charity have never been able to find out what happened to the dog or how she came to be dumped with two puppies.
She joined Sapphire, a five-month-old Akita puppy, Lola, an 11-year-old Bull Mastiff, Anya a 12-year-old Mongrel, and Jet an eight-month-old Spaniel for the trip out to GOSH.
O’Grady said: “It was wonderful to see the children’s eyes light up when we arrived with the Battersea dogs. I know how much they will be missing their own pets. Some of the children had drawn pictures of their favourite dogs, and they were absolutely made up to have a furry friend sit by their side.
“The dogs loved the attention, and it was such an honour to meet with the children, their families and the hospital staff, some of who will be working over Christmas.”
One of the patients O’Grady met with was Thomas Fox, aged 11, who was undergoing treatment for leukaemia.
Thomas’s dad Roger said: “Thomas has been a GOSH patient since he was diagnosed with leukaemia this year. He is currently undergoing preparation for a bone marrow transplant just before Christmas.
“We’re so grateful to the hospital for everything they do, and the love and care given by their staff. It was an absolute pleasure to be involved with this festive visit, especially as this is one of Thomas’s favourite programmes! It was a real boost for all of us and Thomas so enjoyed meeting Paul and having a Christmas cuddle with the dogs.”
The visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital will be shown in the one-hour Christmas special of Paul O’Grady For the Love of Dogs, on ITV at 7.00pm on Christmas Day.