Hellesdon’s Inca is UK PAT Dog of the Year!



Much-loved Hellesdon pooch Inca is the country’s top Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog.

Inca, who has made a difference to scores of patients receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was crowned national champ at Crufts Dog Show.

The eight-year-old Labrador/Staffy cross 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 ) Dog of the Year.

Many of those who voted were readers of Just Hellesdon following publicity about Inca in the magazine last year.

Sheena 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.

“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 in 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.

Sheena 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 fantastic feedback from NSFT staff, service users and relatives about the difference she has made to them – with some even crediting Ina as “saving their lives”.

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

“I’ve always wanted my dogs to have a rich and varied life so decided to volunteer with the charity after I retired. I’m also really interested in research which shows the benefits which animals can bring to people. They are great for mental and physical wellbeing, help people to manage stress and lower the pulse and blood pressure. All in all, they provide people with a real ‘feel good’ factor.”

Julie Cave, interim chief executive with NSFT, 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.”

To support Pets As Therapy, visit

For more information about volunteering with NSFT, visit and click on the “get involved” link from the homepage.

Inca doing her stuff







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