The ceremony marks the successful completion of almost two years of training by assistance dogs who provide vital support to children with autism and those affected by disability and epilepsy.
The event, held at the Royal Victoria Holiday Inn in the city, is also an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of volunteers and donors to the charity’s work across the country.
This year’s guest speaker was Megan Giglia who won Britain’s first gold medal at this year’s Rio Paralympics. Megan won gold in the C1-3 3,000m cycling race. Three years ago she suffered a stroke and brain haemorrhage and cycling formed part of her recovery.
Diane Marriott, of Grenoside, was named Volunteer of the Year. Diane, 60, has been a volunteer since 2014, providing support on the day to day running of Support Dogs from its offices near Meadowhall.
She is also a foster carer, opening her home to assistance dogs while they are in training for the last 15 months. Her current foster dog is Jazz, a golden retriever.
Diane said: “Being a volunteer for Support Dogs is very satisfying because I can see how it changes and transforms people’s lives through the provision and training of assistance dogs. I love being a foster carer too – it’s lovely to give the dogs a home environment while they are in training.”
Irwin Mitchell was awarded the title of Corporate Fundraiser of the Year at the ceremony. Employees at the law firm’s Sheffield offices have been fundraising for three years and this year the company chose Support Dogs as its charity of the year with the aim of raising the £36,000 it costs to train and support an assistance dog partnership through its lifetime.
Irwin Mitchell’s support has included the sponsorship of the charity’s marketing materials and events as well as taking part in big fundraising events such as Total Warrior and its own netball tournament.
Rachel Cooper and Jeanette Scanlan, serious injury specialists at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office, said: “We enjoy working with Support Dogs as they are a charity that remarkably improves quality of life for people with disabilities and allows them much needed independence.
“We are honoured to have been awarded with the Corporate Fundraiser of the Year award. It makes such a difference knowing that our fundraising activities throughout the year have been making a difference to people’s lives.
“We want to say a huge thank you to the charity and we had a wonderful afternoon at the ceremony. Megan was an incredibly inspirational speaker and meeting so many of the dogs and their owners and hearing their incredible stories was very special.”
Danny Anderson, fundraising manager at Support Dogs, said: “Our awards and graduation ceremony is hugely memorable because of the all the wonderful people who support us. Our congratulations go to Diane who is a dream volunteer and Irwin Mitchell for their continued and valuable fundraising efforts on our behalf.”
To find out more about Support Dogs visit www.supportdogs.org.uk or follow @supportdogsuk on twitter.