Winners

Deana uses lockdown to train support dogs

National Lottery winner, Deana Sampson, has come up with an innovative way of ensuring she gets her daily exercise and maintains a true sense of purpose during lockdown – training disability assistance dogs with the charity, Support Dogs.

Deana, 57, from Sheffield, scooped a £5.4Million Lotto jackpot in 1996. She has always loved dogs and the charity is something which is very close to her heart.

Deana lost her severely disabled brother, Glyn, when he was just 40 years old following an epileptic fit. As a result, Support Dogs really resonated with her as it is a charity supporting and helping people with a variety of conditions, including epilepsy.

Just weeks before the country went into lock down to curb the spread of coronavirus, Deana took on her first assistance dog to train – five-month-old Regis, a golden Labrador.

She explained, “The charity is extremely close to me, particularly as it helps people with a whole range of needs and disabilities. I know how much my brother struggled with his epilepsy and he unfortunately lost his life as a result.

“I had a whole host of training lined up for my new puppy – going out in public to busy places, restaurants and parks – but after lock down was enforced I quickly had to adapt and focus all of the training with Regis to my kitchen and back garden!”

Deana is also taking part in online training sessions with Support Dogs, a national charity based in Sheffield, which received £7,500 of National Lottery funding in February last year for a community project involving its charity shop.

Deanna added, “He is certainly keeping me fit!”

When Regis completes his training with Deana in just over a year’s time, he will progress to full time day school where his skills will be assessed. At that point it will be decided who he will best be able to support, whether this is someone with epilepsy, a child with autism or someone with other disabilities.

Danny Anderson, Fundraising Manager at Support Dogs, which is helping more than 100 families across the UK with a whole range of needs, said, “We desperately need more people like Deana to come forward.

“She is a real lifeline. These dogs give people a totally new lease of life and enable them to do things they wouldn’t previously have been able to do without this support.

“The dogs are trained to identify when someone is within one hour of having a seizure – before the person even knows themselves. They will stare and nudge their owner until they take action to put themselves in a safe place until the seizure has passed. It could be that they then just lie next to them to comfort them, they could be trained to bring them a blanket, their telephone – a whole range of things. These dogs really are remarkable.

“Alternatively, it could be found that the dog, following training, is more appropriate to support someone with autism, providing them with on-going comfort so they are able to go to more places without feeling anxious and lead more independent lives.”

The dogs normally work for around eight years before they retire at the age of 10.

9th June 2020

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