Woof Stock

23 September 2018

Yorkshire Army heroes hold fund-raising dog show to thank mental health charity for support



A former Army nursing officer who was awarded a medal by the Queen for bravery - and her friend who worked on the front line as an explosives search dog handler - are raising funds for a mental health charity that saved their lives. The pair are organising a fun dog show and craft fair which they have named ‘Woof Stock’ at Terrington Village Hall near York on Sunday 23rd September from 10am and 4pm.

Retired Lt Col Janet Pilgrim (51) and her friend Rob Hayden (37) (Royal Army Veterinary Corps ) from Terrington near York were helped through a time of crisis by mental health charity Scarborough Whitby and Ryedale Mind, when they had nowhere else to turn.

The friends, who both have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression, say they often battle traumatic flashbacks and thoughts of suicide.

They say it was Scarborough Whitby and Ryedale Mind that put them on the right path at a time when they needed support and that the dog show will be a fantastic opportunity to raise much needed funds as well as awareness.

Former senior Army medic Janet – who served in the forces for 20 years - was awarded the Royal Red Cross in 2008 for her selfless devotion in running a British field hospital in Basra, Iraq, which came under heavy enemy fire.

While Rob, who undertook tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, had a senior role in a team using search and protection dogs to sniff out arms and explosives to protect infantry soldiers.

Janet, who served in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corp, said: “PTSD affects every part of my life, every day. The anxiety and depression can take hold and stops me from being able to do simple tasks. I have nightmares, am hyper vigilant and often suicidal.

“Mind matched me with a volunteer who has similar interests to me. She was a shoulder to cry on, someone to confide in and knew me well. She was there when I was in crisis. I don’t know what I’d have done without her.

 “She has gone with me to appointments and events that I wanted to go to but couldn’t go alone.

Animal lover Janet, who was medically discharged from the Army, has a Border Collie service dog called Mollie. She says her pooch has twice stopped her from taking her own life by sitting next to her with her paw on her foot.

“She calms me down and comes everywhere with me and we make a great team.”

Rob, who served in the Royal Army veterinary core for five years, now works as a dog trainer.

He explained simple things like the sound of a smoke alarm or the smell of a match, can leave him physically floored for days and leave him living in fear of it happening again.

“I cannot thank Mind enough for their support,” he said. “There was never any support from the Army. They teach you to be a soldier but they don’t help you to be a civilian.

“You can see a broken arm or plaster on someone and know they are ill but mental health does not show itself until its really bad.

 “We decided to raise funds for Mind to celebrate their work in the community and to educate local people about what they do and what help they can get.

“We also want to highlight the issues around mental health and encourage people to talk about it and to say thank you for the charity’s support.”

There will be 12 classes at the dog show with rosettes awarded up to 6th place with prizes for all the winners provided by Oscars Dog Foods. The show will celebrate all types of dogs with classes including Best Rescue, Best Bitch, Best Dog as well as best biscuit catcher, best trick and waggiest tail. People can enter their dogs on the day at a cost of £1 per class.

Rob added: “The show will celebrate all types of dogs from the young, the old and the rescued.

“My dog Harlequin has seen me at my best and worst. The honesty and compassion a dog can give is unexplainable. We really hope people will come along and support our event.”

As well as the canine capers, there will be a craft fair inside the village hall with a wide range of local stallholders including “Shabby Shack Bunting and Crafts”, “Derwent Preserves”, “Paul Cade Plants” and “The Little Soap Factory.” There will also be a range of refreshments, home baking and a bar.


Rob and Harlequin, Jan and Mollie