Vote for Hellesdon’s Inca as top PAT dog


A Hellesdon woman’s gentle, much-loved pet has made it to the finals of a national competition to find the nation’s top therapy dog – and needs your vote to win the crown.

Eight-year-old Inca and her owner Sheena Scrimgeor have been making a positive difference to the lives of scores of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust  patients from across both counties for the past six years.

Inca, a Labrador-Staffie cross, is a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog, visiting people in hospitals, and is in the final six of the charity’s PAT Dog of the Year contest.

She and Sheena beat hundreds of other entrants from across the country – including 70 from the eastern region alone – to make the shortlist and now need the public’s support to help them lift the title.

The pair will find out whether they have won on live TV at next year’s Crufts Dog Show, which takes place at the NEC Birmingham in March. Sheena said she was “blown away” to find out Inca had been shortlisted.

“I’m very pleased for the patients as they made a great effort to write lovely statements to support Inca’s entry in the competition,” she added. “The only sad thing is that my mother won’t be able to watch. She thought the world of Inca and loved Crufts and watched it every year, but died in March at the grand old age of 101.

“She would have loved to see Inca up on stage in the arena in front of crowds of people being recognised for the work she does. “If Inca wins, I will dedicate the award to her. I’m sure she would have been proud of us both.”

Staff and patients have been sending messages of support for Sheena and Inca. They include this, from Veronica Rackham, of Thurne Ward, Hellesdon Hospital: “Inca is a beautiful dog with a lovely calming nature. She is gentle and loving and will happily sit and be stroked by everyone. I believed she has a very positive impact on all she meets and I know that her visits are very eagerly awaited and enjoyed by many.”

Sheena and Inca 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. * Vote for Inca by filling in the form in the current edition of Yours magazine or by visiting Voting closes on December 31.


TV Helen at Hellesdon Macmillan event

Television and radio presenter Helen McDermott will be dropping in to Hellesdon Hospital for a Macmillan coffee morning this Friday, September 29, from 10am-noon – and everyone is welcome.

The event, run by staff, service-users and volunteers, will include a Best Baker competition with a chance to taste entrants’ offerings and  vote for your favourite.

Helen will find coffee, cake, a friendly welcome and much more at the event, run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s Recovery, Participation and Partnership team, which aims to raise money for the charity and awareness of mental health and the help available.

Helen said: “Both my parents had cancer and having the help of the amazing Macmillan nurses helped us get through the difficult times. I have supported the charity for many years and ran the London Marathon twice (although not on the same day) to raise over £6,000 for Macmillan. It will be a relief this time to have a coffee to help raise funds instead of pounding the streets!”

She added: “I have chosen to visit Hellesdon Hospital because I have a particular interest in mental health issues, having suffered from depression all my life. Mental health problems can affect any of us at any time. Help is available and hospitals like Hellesdon provide much-needed support.”

Other attractions at the event will include stress-ball making, origami, cake stalls, tombola, a raffle, guess-the-weight-of-the-cake and the NSFT Youth Council will be making waffles. Whitlingham Ward are baking cakes and also helping to run the event.

Along with ski sessions at Norfolk Snow Sports, other raffle prizes have been kindly donated by Gravity Trampoline Park, Fairhaven Water Gardens, Pleasure Beach, the Puppet Theatre, Teabags and Shoes, Middletons, Yarmouth Museum, King’s Lynn Museum, Ancient House Museum and the Assembly House.

There will also be stalls offering information about the Recovery College and its courses, PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service), support for carers and the Wellbeing service. The coffee morning has been arranged by the Recovery Team along with Whitlingham Ward, with Jessica Lyons, Recovery College administrator, and Tracey Jackson, Recovery College volunteer, being responsible for pulling the event together.

Jessica said: “We are hoping for it to be a fun morning. There’s lots going on and some great raffle prizes. We’re really grateful for all the support we’ve had for the event, Tracey and the team have been brilliant.”

Marcus Hayward, head of Recovery, Participation and Partnership, said: “In addition to raising money for Macmillan we have taken the opportunity to raise awareness of mental health. We know physical ill health and bereavement in families very much affects everyone’s mental wellbeing and so joining the two supports both initiatives.

“Money raised at the event will be given to the Macmillan Cancer Support Trust who provide medical, emotional, practical and financial support to those in need.”
Helen McDermott. Photo: BBC