Nobody who has ever watched a guide dog at work can fail to have been moved by the animal’s skills. For those of us lucky enough to have seen Endal and EJ (Endal Junior) in action, the reaction is even more staggering.
These are the dogs who have transformed Allen Parton’s life. They are assistance dogs and, quite simply, without them Mr Parton might be dead.
Mr Parton, from Clanfield, was a chief petty officer in the navy when he suffered severe head injuries in the Gulf War. He spent five years in hospital and was finally presented with Endal, the yellow labrador which turned around his life.
The dog could respond to more than 100 commands and could even withdraw money from a cashpoint.
In 2001 Mr Parton was knocked out of his wheelchair by a speeding car and left unconscious. Endal took charge, put Mr Parton into the recovery position, covered him with a blanket and went to a hotel to raise the alarm.
It was experiences like these which inspired Mr Parton to found Hounds for Heroes. It’s a charity which provides assistance dogs for injured and disabled men and women of the UK’s armed forces and civilian emergency services to improve their quality of life.
Endal and latterly EJ have received numerous plaudits, but now Mr Parton is to be honoured with a prestigious Soldiering On award next month and we can think of no-one more deserving than him.
He has been nominated by the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust and Squadron Leader Tal Lambert, the founder of the Soldiering On Through Life Trust, said: ‘There is no better example of a serviceman who deserves this award.
‘Not only is he an example to others but also, despite his horrific injuries, he has shown a determination to get on with life.
‘He is a true hero which underlines the spirit of our armed forces, the Royal Navy and these awards.’
In an age where too often honours go to faceless bureaucrats, we are delighted that Hounds for Heroes has won such well-deserved and lofty recognition.