Much-loved Norfolk and Suffolk NHS therapy dog Inca wins Crufts award

Inca and Sheena. Photo: Sheena Scrimgeour

Inca and Sheena. Photo: Sheena Scrimgeour - Credit: Sheena Scrimgeour

They say dogs are man's best friend - and much loved pooch Inca has made a difference to patients receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT)

Inca on her rounds. Photo: Sheena Scrimgeour

Inca on her rounds. Photo: Sheena Scrimgeour - Credit: Sheena Scrimgeour

The eight-year-old Labrador Staffy cross has won a national award at Crufts Dog Show.

Inca and owner Sheena Scrimgeour beat hundreds of other entrants from across the country, including 70 from the eastern region alone, to make the shortlist of six, and then faced a public vote before Inca was crowned Pets As Therapy (PAT) Dog of the Year.

Miss Scrimgeour, who lives in Hellesdon, said: 'I'm shocked but thrilled as well. We had an amazing time there and Inca was as good as gold.

'They started by announcing the runners-up and then suddenly Inca was named as 2018 PAT Dog of the Year. I couldn't believe it, I'm still coming back down to earth.

Inca and Sheena at the awards. Photo: Sheena Scrimgeour

Inca and Sheena at the awards. Photo: Sheena Scrimgeour - Credit: Sheena Scrimgeour

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'I'm so pleased, and so grateful to all the staff and service users at NSFT whose support got us into the shortlist, and to everyone who then voted for Inca to win the award.'

They found out they had won the Good Citizen arena at Crufts at the NEC Birmingham on Friday and were given a crystal trophy, rosette, sash, some dog goodies and £500.

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Miss Scrimgeour and Inca have been volunteering with the Pets As Therapy charity for the past six years. They visit Hellesdon Hospital every Monday, The Julian Hospital on Tuesdays and the Norvic Clinic on Fridays, as well as fitting in regular visits to Hellesdon High School, a prison and the University of East Anglia.

She entered Inca after receiving feedback from NSFT staff, service users and relatives about the difference she has made to them, with some even crediting the Labrador Staffy cross as 'saving their lives.'

Miss Scrimgeour added: 'Inca has a lovely nature and just loves people, and seems to know she is doing something beneficial. She thoroughly enjoys the interaction and I can tell she gets pleasure from the visits.

Julie Cave, NSFT interim chief executive, said: 'We are absolutely delighted that Inca has won this national prize. Together with Sheena, she brings lots of smiles and joy to our wards, especially for patients who have had to leave their own pets at home while they are in our care.

'Inca and Sheena are inspirational in the voluntary work they do across our trust.'

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