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Neighbourhood Nurse testimonial: "We have visited one of our patients for months and months. I was very proud of how we reduced her care visits, supported her and her family so she could remain at home. Nursing home was a very real and plausible solution when we first started visiting. Slowly her independence increased and we almost reached a very comfortable state. Themes were being repeated in conversations and it struck me how much our lady was missing her pets. However it was difficult to establish the real need for contact with pets as the conversation varied daily and also with different members of staff. 
A chance meeting and testimony about animal therapy with a lady from Our Special Friends (OSF) have confirmed my gut feeling to refer our lady to this charity that we were hoping to involve into our care delivery following a webinar about ways to combat social isolation.
Since OSF involvement with our patient , I have noticed a remarkable difference in the conversations we have. I noted someone who was more engaged and interested in different subjects. Our lady has found new joy in her life and talks about her weekly walks with OSF every day. She tells me how lucky she is that her days are not endless and her time is filled with family that cares about her as well as contact with OSF. The value of OSF involvement in this lady’s life is multiple – the health benefits in terms of exercise , no cost to attend a group or transport costs , mental stimulation and socialisation in a way that suits her. Most of all, I contribute the twinkle in her eye to the involvement of OSF in this lady’s life. Thank you!"

This is accompanied 'mobile' animal-assisted activity (AAA) where a volunteer with their own dog will go out walking with people who have a love of animals and are keen to be out and about with them. Thank you Linda Sadler and MEG for your magical impact, regular consistent commitment, time and kindness as our volunteer OSF visiting pet partnership.

Theana Warden

Hi, my name is Sue.  At the beginning of 2016 I became seriously ill and only had a 50% chance of pulling through.  I had a very long stay in hospital – 5½ months to be exact.  During this time my five horses, four cats and dog Mason were taken into a rehoming centre. Now as you may be able to imagine, this almost destroyed me. These beautiful animals were my life, who gave me peace, love, fun and calmness. My world stopped in January 2016 and I won’t go into detail about my illness, but a year on, the threat of it coming back is a possibility. Whilst in hospital a dog appeared as a PAT dog – how I cried. I cannot put into words how much this meant to me. I told them about my dog, Mason, a big black Staffie. Next, they organised for a Staffie to come and visit me and my heart melted. He reminded me so much of Mason, I wondered if he was happy and whether I would ever be able to have, and care for, another dog – who knows the day may come then my world will change.

When I came out of hospital I was introduced to a lady called Veronica who visits people in my situation with a dog. I said yes straight away and a visit was arranged. To my great surprise Veronica turned up with Kara, the most stunning blue Staffie I had ever seen. Kara came in, and if anyone has owned a Staffie you will know how excited they can be. Kara came in slowly, calm but interested in where she was. I think she sensed how ill I still was. Kara is so gentle in her nature. I asked Veronica if there was anywhere Kara didn’t liked being stroked and if she would mind Kara coming on my sofa. Also if I could give her treats in a Kong ball so she has to look for them. Veronica said it was up to me if this was what I wanted and that Kara would be happy with a cuddle and stroke. I have fallen in love with this amazing dog who sits with me and lets me cuddle and kiss her and rub her tummy. Kara is amazing; she makes me cry with joy at being able to have her in my home. Kara doesn’t realise how special she is and the amazing voluntary work that ‘Our Special Friends’ does for people like me.

I so look forward to Veronica and Kara’s visits. They make me want to get out of bed and stop feeling sorry for myself, because over the year I have lost my animals and fallen into deep depressions. Now I have two fabulous friends; Veronica and I can talk the hind legs of a donkey whilst Kara sits there on my sofa chomping on her Kong and talking in her own ‘doggy language’. I’m stroking and cuddling her all the time and I thank them both with all my heart that you have allowed me to be part of their lives. Without ‘Our Special Friends’ I would have been so lonely. Everyone needs a Veronica and Kara in their lives.

(You may remember in the March Newsletter, Kara telling the story of her visits to Sue.)


This is to say a big thank you to your organisation for the marvellous care and support you provide to my step mother Mrs Gwyneth Boldero. 

Gwyneth looks forward to the weekly visits she has from your volunteer Jill and her dog and her mood has improved very much since she has had the visits from your ladies. When she first had visits from your volunteer she had been in hospital and was feeling very down. One year and more on, your constant support and dedicated service in keeping those visits going, with only one change of volunteer, has been an important part of Gwyneth getting her confidence and spirit back and we are very grateful to Our Special Friends for this. 

As a family we very much appreciate the level of professionalism your organisation displays towards Gwyneth and also towards us. We know that you will let us know if there are any areas of concern about Gwyneth and we find that your extra pair of very thoughtful eyes keeping a look out for her, when we are not living near by, is very reassuring. We do rely on Our Special Friends to be part of a schedule of activities for Gwyneth in her home, which keep her busy and in touch with the outside world. 

Gwyneth herself loves the chats that she has with Jill her current visitor and she loves seeing the dog and being able to stroke it.  She tells us about the way the dog behaves and how it looks out of the window and she looks forward to seeing her every week. Being able to speak to someone regularly with whom she has a shared interest in dogs is very good for my step-mums mental and physical health and we hope that you can continue to provide this important service for the forseeable future.

Alison Smyth

My old Burmese cat, Baz passed away aged (I believe) 21 years. He was actually my alter ego, a being that I could not only relate to but who projected his qualities (mostly good) into my life and made me smile. He loved sunnydipping, or laying in a pool of sunshine and that is exactly what he was - a ray of sunshine. I miss him terribly but the grief is outweighed by the excellent memories. Love comes in many forms, some small and furry!

Don Whiteford

Thanks so much for being a sounding board and providing me with advice, it was all really helpful and supportive.

Cassandra Webb

Not quite sure how to write this but from the heart... When my mare was put to sleep I was distraught and utterly heartbroken. I was shocked by how painful the experience was. I needed to speak to someone who understood how I felt and it was hard to describe to people without horses how bad it was. I also felt very guilty that this relationship with "just a horse" had such a dramatic effect on me.

I'm not sure how I found Our Special Friends but was very glad that I did. Much of that time was a blur because I was deep in grief but I do remember how important it was to speak to someone who understood and didn't judge.

I loved that horse and she was my escape from all the things that troubled me. I still miss her dreadfully and she will always have a piece of my heart but after three years I have found a new horse that I am building a new relationship with. I am so lucky to have animals in my life that enrich and improve my life on a daily basis thank you for your help I was lucky to find you.

Annette Whiteford

Sybil grew up on a farm and so animals and dogs have been an important part of her life for many years. She is also a very social lady who loves company. In recent years she has sadly suffered from increasingly poor health, physically she has become frail and lost mobility and mentally she has been affected by poor memory and increasing confusion.

Although she had regular visits at home from friends and family it was often difficult to engage her for any length of time and she often struggled to take in what we were saying, which left her feeling isolated and frustrated.   

The relationship between animal and human being does not require words and so when Belinda and Rolo started to visit Sybil - the benefits were immediately obvious. Lots of laughing, lots of stroking and cuddles and the development of a strong bond for which words were not required. We found as a family, there was always something to talk and laugh about with her after Rolo's visit and it definitely made a big difference to her overall wellbeing.

The Morphew Family, Suffolk

I just wanted to thank you for all your support, understanding and time when I lost my much loved dear little Toby. Your time and kindness really meant a lot to me and I'm very grateful. You really helped me.

As a thank you, I have made a donation by BACS of £* to your charity, Our Special Friends to help with all the invaluable, worthwhile work you and your volunteers do.

Lisa Bebbington

My family was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of Our Special Friends' support when tragedy struck my son-in-law's family earlier in 2014 and I was unable to help myself. Belinda and Our Special Friends stepped in and helped his family which had already been left devastated by the loss of a family member. It was a complex situation but Our Special Friends managed to lift a huge weight from them at a very difficult time. The world is a better place with Our Special Friends in it.

Michelle Kavanagh, Newmarket

My mother's move into residential care has prompted me to write and say how dear B's visits with Rolo each week ....have helped my mother no end....Seeing people other than her daily carers and me has been such an important and uplifting experience. My mother's love for all animals, especially dogs, was able to be continued and much appreciated by her, as she spoke so fondly of little Rolo. I enclose a little ‘thank you’ on her behalf which may help in some small way in keeping this wonderful and necessary service continue.

Thank you for your continuing support re: Dexter. Our Special Friends has been able to help me greatly at a difficult time in my life both practically and in making decisions.

Liz R, Stowmarket

What a delightful dog. I love him! Thank you so much for introducing us. I am very grateful to you both. He has brought joy into my life and I am sure he helped my breathing. Guess it was the relaxation of sitting and stroking him. May God bless you and your charity.

I am so impressed at the wonderful, caring approach shown by Our Special Friends to my mother who has dementia and physical health problems. She gets great enjoyment from Rolo, who visits regularly and brightens up her days.

Dr Louise Skioldebrand, Stowmarket

I will never be able to thank you enough. You were the lifeguard when I thought I was drowning, and it was so helpful knowing that you understood and cared, thank you.