The Prime Minister has today, 15 October, recognised Allen Parton, from Clanfield, for his exceptional service founding ‘Hounds for Heroes’, a charity which provides specially trained assistance dogs for disabled veterans and emergency services personnel, which he established in memory of his service dog, Endal, who helped him recover physically and emotionally after a traumatic injury in the Gulf War.
Allen suffered severe memory loss and was left unable to walk, speak or write, spending five years in hospital. Through Endal, he was able to rebuild confidence and his relationships with his wife and children, with Endal capable of responding to over a hundred commands to provide Allen with support, including reacting to an emergency in 2001 when Allen was knocked out of his wheelchair by a speeding car and left unconscious in a car park. Following this, Allen realised how transformational assistance dogs could be for disabled members of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services and set up 'Hounds for Heroes' to provide this service. The charity runs an intensive two year training course for puppies, and since 2011 has achieved 15 successful placements.
Allen is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements. Allen received his award at the Houses of Parliament today from his local MP, Sir George Hollingbery KCMG, alongside his two assistance dogs EJ (Endal Junior) and Rookie.
In a personal letter to Allen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
"I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how you are paying tribute to the memory of Endal by training assistance dogs for other veterans, helping them to rebuild their lives as you bravely did. Our Armed Forces do so much on our behalf and I thank you for all that you do to honour our selfless veterans."
Sir George Hollingbery KCMG, MP for Meon Valley, said:
“I am very pleased Allen’s tremendous work with Hounds for Heroes has been recognised by this much deserved award.
“To sustain injuries in conflict but then, through real determination, set up a charity making such a big difference is a wonderful achievement.”
“I am so incredibly humbled and honoured to have been nominated for a Points of Light award. I am though constantly reminded to look over my shoulder at those who have supported me over the years and made my dreams and visions the reality they are today. The message that comes out of awards such as this is “that folk really do care” and from where I sit that is such a powerful message to receive, I salute you all!”
Allen is the 1262nd winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.
Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.