Honour for ‘Pets as Therapy’ worker

British Empire Medal recipient Ruth Boyes and her dog Charlie.
British Empire Medal recipient Ruth Boyes and her dog Charlie.

A woman who used her dogs to help people with various illnesses and issues has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list.

Ruth Boyes lived in Dewsbury when she realised the positive effect her dog was having on her grandson, Robert, who suffered with cerebral palsy.
Robert sadly died, but Mrs Boyes, formerly of Birkdale Road, was inspired to use her dogs to help elderly people and people with illnesses or problems by visiting with them at care homes, hospitals, hospices and prisons.
She said: “When my grandson was ill I thought ‘this dog understands’.
“We can’t say categorically it’s just the dogs but I have seen great improvements in people.”
Mrs Boyes said that the honour was shared with the other volunteers from the Pets as Therapy charity and with her dogs, Charlie (pictured with Mrs Boyes) and Stella.
She said: “Across the country there are more than 5,000 volunteers who visit an estimated 130,000 people each week between them. They bring great comfort to people.”
Airedale terrier Charlie won the prize for best Pets as Therapy dog at Crufts last year.
“He is very perceptive – he changes his behaviour based on where he visits,” she said.
“ At a hospital for people with severe learning difficulties, for example, he always pads around quietly.
“I’m sure everyone says something like this but I was amazed and obviously very pleased because it is good for the charity. I’m very honoured and very flattered.”
Mrs Boyes was a pupil at Whitcliffe Mount School in Cleckheaton and lived in Dewsbury 1967-2006.
She currently lives in Leyburn, North Yorkshire.
The news of the honour was received at the same time as her school mate, old friend and chairman of Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, David Horsman, received his MBE.
For information visit www.petsastherapy.org.