Tag: news

How a PPCT grant helped Benson the Staffie

benson the staffie streetvet

When Benson, a Staffordshire bull terrier, suffered a rupture in the cruciate ligament in his right knee, a grant from Petplan Charitable Trust helped to get him back on his feet.

benson the staffordshire bull terrierBenson is a much-loved pet. So, it was heart-breaking for his owner to watch him suffer knowing that he was unable to help him. Not through lack of love, but because his owner is homeless and unable to pay for insurance or surgery.

Luckily for Benson, help was at hand. StreetVet, a charity which supports the homeless and their pets, stepped in. They provided Benson with pain relief to make him comfortable and booked him in for surgery.

After the op, his owner wheeled him around London for six weeks to give his joints time to heal. Then, he was up on his feet again and back to old self.

Petplan Charitable Trust has supported StreetVet with grants totalling £18,000 to help pets like Benson lead a happy and healthy life.

Find out about some of the many charities we support, here.

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PPCT grant holder wins prestigious Young Researchers prize

yasmin paterson ppct grant holder

PPCT grant holder, Yasmin Paterson, has won the Walter and Dorothy Plowright Memorial Prize for Young Researchers 2019 through the Veterinary Research Club.

The grant from Petplan Charitable Trust has enabled Yasmin Paterson to use cutting-edge science to investigate ways to improve tendon healing in horses.

‘Without the additional funding we received from the PPCT this project would not have been possible,’ she says.

yasmin paterson

According to Paterson, tendon injuries are one of the most common forms of orthopaedic injuries in horses, affecting all disciplines. However, despite a multitude of available treatments, over half of the horses which have this type of injury will go on to re-injure. The reason for this high rate of re-injury is due to the way in which adult tendons heal; forming functionally deficient scar tissue.

‘Interestingly, this is in complete contrast to how fetal tendons heal, which have this remarkable ability to heal without forming any scar tissue,’ observes Paterson. ‘This property is intrinsic to the fetal cells themselves. My research is therefore looking at whether we could use a stem cell-based therapy to try and improve adult tendon healing and mimic that of fetal tendons.’

PPCT grant has enabled the team to use cutting-edge sequencing techiniques

Stem cells are unique in that they can turn into all the cell types in the body. The team wanted to find out whether their stem cells, once they’d become tendon cells, would behave more like adult or fetal tendon cells.

‘This may tell us if they would be useful therapeutically,’ explains Paterson. ‘At the moment I am currently in the final year of this study, and we have definitely generated some really interesting results which strengthens the evidence that our stem cells may in fact prove very useful in the future!’

The PPCT grant has enabled the team at the Animal Health Trust to use cutting-edge sequencing techniques to compare cell types in much greater depth than would have been possible with just her PhD funding alone.

‘The search for treatments for career-ending tendon injuries is really my passion, and so my immediate plan for the future is to try and continue this crucial work by applying for fellowship funding to investigate further some of the findings from my PhD. In terms of my long-term goal, I want to help pave the way to seeing this science move into clinics, so that we can start to help improve the welfare of many horses.

‘Knowing that you’re working on something that could really make a difference to animals’ lives makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Find out more about Yasmin’s research and her beautiful horse, Totem.

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PPCT pays tribute to animals serving in conflict

cavalry horses at animals in war service hyde park

Sir Derek Jacobi and Jilly Cooper CBE were among those who took part in the Trust’s annual remembrance service at the Animals in War Memorial, Hyde Park.

Jilly Cooper speaks at Animals in War PPCT serviceThe Animals in War Memorial in London’s Park Lane was officially opened in 2004 by HRH the Princess Royal. The monument is a powerful and moving tribute to all the animals that served, suffered and died alongside the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces in the wars and conflicts of the 20th century.

Each year, on the Friday nearest to Remembrance Sunday, Petplan Charitable Trust organises a service, inviting representatives from animal charities all over the UK to come and pay their respects. On the morning of 8th November 2019 dogs, horses, mules, donkeys and humans gathered once again.

Just before 11am, three members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, led by Capt Robert Perera, rode up and took their places at the side of the memorial. At 11.00 am all those present fell silent as one minute’s silence was held.

Capt Perera then read a poem called “A Soldier’s Kiss”, and then the rest of the speakers, standing on the steps in front of the memorial, began.

attendees at animals in war service

First to speak was Dr Hilda Kean, an academic and historian and author of “The Great Cat and Dog Massacre”. Dr Kean told us about the tragedy which occurred in the UK at the very beginning of WW2 when it is estimated that as many as 750,000 dogs and cats were euthanized over fears that there wouldn’t be enough food. She also gave examples of the many heart-warming stories of how pets helped their owners, in so many ways, during the war – from simply giving comfort to alerting them to imminent dangers.

dog stands by wreath animals in war memorial london

Dogs Trust had organised a primary school poetry competition, and the two young winners read with great composure. Anab Omar from Stark Fields Primary School, Enfield read No Man’s Land and Isla Gardner from Cropredy School, Banbury read Jobs of War Dogs.

Next to speak was Gordon Corera, a BBC correspondent and author of Pigeon Secret Service, who told those present about some of the fascinating and heroic acts undertaken by pigeons during WWII. These included delivering messages from behind enemy lines and taking messages from stranded soldiers and sailors to alert their colleagues to their plight.

Two children from Redhill Preparatory School in Pembrokeshire then read their work. They had been chosen by their teachers after they and their classmates were given a project to write about Finn, a police dog who was stabbed whilst pursuing a suspect with his handler PC David Wardell. The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, which came into force earlier this year, will prevent those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence. The law is named after Finn and is known as Finn’s Law.

servicemen lay wreath at animals in war service

Jilly Cooper, CBE was the final speaker. Jilly is one of the original trustees who worked tirelessly to raise the money for the memorial to be built, and she spoke about the continuing courage and bravery of animals in the 21st Century. She told of a dog which, during the tragedy of 9/11, refused to leave its owner’s side as he walked down 90 floors of one of the Twin Towers on staircases filled with thick, black smoke. They both escaped.

All the organisations present then laid wreaths and paid their respects. The event concluded with short reading by Sir Derek Jacobi, finishing with the words: “We will remember them”.

All images kind courtesy Wayne Jones Photography

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Meet PPCT Founder David Simpson

david simpson PPCT with his spaniel marmaduke

Since 1994, the Petplan Charitable Trust has donated over £11 million to animal charities and veterinary institutions.

Co-Founder, David Simpson, explains how it all started and highlights some of his favourite projects to date. He also introduces us to his beloved cocker spaniel, Marmaduke.

What inspired you to start Petplan Charitable Trust?

Patsy Bloom, my partner in Petplan, had the idea. We had founded Petplan together some 18 years earlier. It had grown to be the largest pet insurer with 400,000 clients. Clients were always sending us pictures of their pets and engaging with us quite differently from how clients normally communicate with their insurers. Patsy felt, rightly, that clients would be interested in helping less fortunate animals and helping to improve veterinary medicine generally. As part of Petplan’s normal business we had strong connections with the larger animals charities and knew how serious a problem animal welfare was generally in the whole country.

steven and colt service dogss uk

You’re clearly an animal lover. Did you grow up with pets? Do you have any today?

Funnily enough, no, I did not grow up with pets. My parents moved around a lot from Greece, where I was born, to several countries in Africa. This made having pets difficult. We did rescue a pair of beautiful Samoyeds, Kiki and Tina, in Algiers. who had been horribly mistreated. Unfortunately, we moved on but not before finding them a good home. I rode regularly and have always loved horses. I did not have any dogs again until I had children, when we had two Shelties and a Cavalier King Charles. After the children left home we did not have any pets.

Then, 5 years ago, I brought Marmaduke into my life. He is a chocolate Working Cocker. He is not a working dog, just a great big softie with typical spaniel dolesome eyes and a lovely temperament. His only fault is that when it comes to food he is a total millennial. He believes that he has an entitlement to any food that is around ….. anywhere. It turns him into a thief!

How has PPCT grown over the past 20 years?

Enormously. We were not sure how policyholders would react. Initially their donations were built into their premium. However, for the last 20 years, they have had to make the conscious choice to give us money. We have been overwhelmed by their support. We now have an income of around £1 million per annum which has enabled us to help advance veterinary science and support a vast number of very worthy causes.

Does Petplan Charitable Trust only support UK charities and organisations, or do you also do work overseas?

We do support work overseas, though mostly through UK-based organisations. The vast majority of our support does go to charities working in the UK to reflect our donor base. There are, however, a number of really good charities operating overseas who are doing tremendous work who we feel it is important to support.

members of the streetvet team

Petplan Charitable Trust has helped many charities achieve great things. Are there any projects PPCT has supported which are particularly memorable?

Goodness me, there are so many – that I could go on for a long time! Our work in supporting rehoming and rescue charities of course has always been central to our grants and remains a core element. I have always been drawn to the ‘human/animal bond’ side of things and there are so many that come to mind; assistance dogs such as Hearing Dogs and Pets for Therapy; Riding for the Disabled and the important work they do; Service Dogs matching rescues with ex serviceman with PTSD; StreetVet veterinary volunteers treating homeless people’s dogs; and to several charities we have supported who find foster homes for pets when a home breaks up through domestic abuse. Sadly, refuges cannot take in pets yet families need to know that their pets will be able to rejoin them in due course.

One of the more quirky was helping the Hampshire Fire Brigade’s Animal Rescue unit. We funded the first dedicated Animal Rescue tender, and also supported the team as they not only trained another 53 brigades around the country but introduced a programme whereby there is now a network of specially-trained emergency veterinary surgeons across the whole of the UK.

Our largest grant to date has been to the Pet Blood Bank which has enabled them to build a specialist mobile collection unit. Our smallest grant was £375 a year we gave to the Joseph Clark School, a school for children with special needs, that financed the food for their pet rabbits and gerbils.

What is the thing that you’re most proud of that Petplan Charitable Trust has achieved?

That we have become a significant grant giver. In terms of our support of clinical studies, as government and other funding has dwindled, the role we play has increased. On the Welfare front, too, we are a major grant giver which is evidenced by the fact that we have to date supported more than 300 individual charities.

mobile pet blood bank

How do you choose which charities and projects Petplan Charitable Trust will help?

We invite applications for both our clinical work and welfare grants. (If you’re a charity, veterinary institution or veterinary practice, you can apply for a grant, hereThese are assessed by our Scientific Committee, made up of eminent veterinary surgeons from every veterinary school in the country, and our Welfare Committee comprising experienced animal welfare experts. They assess the applications and make recommendations to the Trustees who make the ultimate decisions.

More recently, we have also started to look at specific areas and organisations that we feel we would like to support and where we feel there is a special case to be made. These are assessed by a small committee of Trustees who in turn make their recommendations to Trustees.

Looking to the future, how do you see Petplan Charitable Trust continuing to grow?

Very much more of the same. There is still an enormous amount of work to be done and the animal welfare issues do not go away. Every year we have to turn away many worthwhile applications. I would like to think we could raise more money from our donor base so that we can bridge some of this shortfall.

Read more News Stories, here.

PPCT awards £25,000 to Service Dogs UK

steven and colt service dogss uk

The Petplan Charitable Trust (PPCT) has awarded grants totalling £25,000 to Service Dogs UK.

The charity trains and provides PTSD Assistance Dogs, selected carefully from rescue, to support members of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services (including Coast Guard & RNLI & UKSAR) who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Over the past 3 years, Petplan Charitable Trust has provided grants towards the training of both dogs and their new owners.

“They recognised early on that what we were doing was important. They helped the charity to grow and that kind of support for a start-up charity is so precious,” comments Judith Broug, Service Dogs UK.

“We truly appreciate the fantastic support that has helped transform the lives of veterans and rescue dogs.”

PPCT awards £10,000 to Paws Protect

woman holds tabby cat paws protect

In 2019 PPCT awarded £10,000 to Cats Protection for their Paws Protect fostering service, an essential service for people who want to flee domestic abuse.

cats protection logoFor many victims, leaving violent relationships is made impossible as they cannot bear to lose their pets or put them at risk. Very few local authorities provide facilities for boarding pets and most domestic abuse refuges are unable to accept cats.

Paws Protect is a free volunteer led fostering service, where cats are cared for until owners have escaped their violent relationship and resettled away from their abuser.

Currently covering London, Hertfordshire, Essex, Sussex, Surrey and Kent (all of which are areas with no other cat fostering services available), Paws Protect has helped over 265 families with over 470 cats since the service was established. Once a referral to take in a cat has been received either from an individual or an agency, our project staff will collect the cat and bring them to a Cats Protection Adoption Centre which has accommodation for Paws Protect cats. There, each cat is health checked and receives any necessary veterinary treatment. From there, cats are placed with volunteer foster carers who take care of them whilst their owner is resettled.

Making a real difference to people’s lives

Cats are usually with foster carers for 6-9 months, and all costs including cat food, litter and veterinary expenses are covered by Cats Protection during this time. All cats will be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped if necessary.All information concerning clients and foster carers is confidential.

“At Paws Protect we are so grateful for the funding received from the Petplan Charitable Trust for Paws Protect, our cat fostering service for people fleeing domestic abuse,” comments Rose Abram, Paws Protect Co-ordinator at Cats Protection.

“It means we will be able to help more families out of abusive situations by fostering their cats while they flee to safety, giving them the peace of mind that their beloved pets are safe so they can be too. The funding will enable us to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

PPCT funds VR horse rider safety film

dead slow poster british horse society

A virtual reality film released by the British Horse Society aims to cut the number of road accidents involving horses and riders.

The Petplan Charitable Trust donated £25,000 to fund the film which is part of BHS’s Dead Slow campaign. The Dead Slow campaign was launched in March 2016 to coincide with release of the Horse Accidents statistics from the past 6 years. This showed that 181 horses and 36 riders had been killed on the roads and there had been 2,000 incidents involving horses and vehicles. Of these incidents, 80% were caused because drivers passed too fast, too close or a combination of both.

The Dead Slow campaign has 4 clear messages:

  • When you see a horse on the road slow down to a maximum of 15 miles per hour
  • Do not rev your engine or sound your horn
  • When safe to do so, pass the horse wide, at least a cars width, and slowly
  • Drive slowly away

british horse society dead slow banner

In 2018 the British Horse Society’s Dead Slow Virtual Reality film was launched to improve awareness of the campaign.

“Thanks to the Petplan Charitable Trust’s generous support we were able to produce the Dead Slow Virtual Reality film. It has made an incredible difference for drivers to understand what it is like to be on a horse when a car passes too fast or too close,” says Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety.

“After seeing the film 94% of drivers realised they must slow down to a maximum of 15 mph, when passing horses making it safer for both riders and drivers.”

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StreetVet ‘beyond grateful’ to PPCT

members of the streetvet team helping pets of the homeless

The Petplan Charitable Trust has donated £18,000 to StreetVet, an organisation that brings veterinary support to dogs owned by the homeless.

streetvet logoStreetvet was founded by Jade Statt. Now the charity’s CEO, she qualified from Glasgow in 2002. While Statt was in practice in London, she was struck by the number of homeless people with dogs. So, she decided to do something to support their health and welfare.

Although PDSA, Blue Cross and many others offer help, homeless people are often reluctant to use their services. They fear that the animals may be taken from them.

Statt began by going round London with a nurse and a backpack and providing some basic veterinary welfare and health management. She met up with fellow vet, Sam Joseph, who had started doing similar work in 2015 whilst still a student at Bristol Veterinary School. They joined forces and formed StreetVet.

Unlike other organisations engaged in similar work, StreetVet is entirely veterinary-led and has been professionally organized. Altogether, PPCT has awarded £18,000 to the charity to help it continue its work.

“StreetVet have been overwhelmed by the support provided by the Petplan Charitable Trust. The guidance and mentorship, alongside incredible financial help, has been game-changing for us and we are beyond grateful!” says Statt.

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PPCT supports Pet Blood Bank UK

mobile canine blood bank

Petplan Charitable Trust (PPCT) has teamed up with Pet Blood Bank UK (PBB) to support the launch of the first canine blood mobile unit in the UK. Set up in 1994 the Trust provides much needed funds to promote the health and welfare of animals.

pet blood bank uk logo“PBB are very grateful to PPCT for funding this new initiative, the new mobile unit will provide us with an amazing opportunity to reach more donors and make sure we have blood products available 24 hours a day/365 day a year to help sick or injured dogs ultimately saving more dogs lives,” said John Hill, Chairman of Pet Blood Bank UK Board of Trustees.

“We currently hold five sessions a week at host practices across the UK. With advancements in veterinary medicine, maintaining our stock levels can be challenging so the new mobile unit will give us the flexibility to run additional sessions when our blood stocks are low.

“We are thrilled with the new unit and are very grateful to our colleagues at the Petplan Charitable Trust for their support.”

David Simpson from PPCT said, “We are delighted to be supporting Pet Blood Bank. The Blood Bank does tremendously valuable and life-saving work in providing vitally needed blood to help sick pets. Nor do we forget that none of it would be possible without the active support of the dogs and the owners who volunteer to donate blood.”

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