Keswick’s superstar canine Max has won the hero pet category in the Amplifon Awards For Brave Britons 2021.
Along with his owner Kerry Irving, springer spaniel Max, 14, has supported more than 10,000 people through meet-and-greets, charity walks, appearances and school visits in his fundraising efforts, and was said by the judges to have shown the best of British spirit.
They said: “Max demonstrated a willingness to learn disciplines, procedures and skills not only, as initially was the case to rehabilitate Kerry, but then to go on to help with the well-being and mental health of his local community especially during the pandemic.
“In addition, Max has been the mainstay in raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for causes that have helped thousands of people. Many dogs owe their lives to caring humans. In this case, many humans owe their well-being to Max.”
Kerry said: “Max is one in a million. I know he has helped so many people and the response to him is always incredible. People come to see him, meet him and grown men burst into tears. They tell me about how he’s helped them through lockdown, illness or bereavement. And it is really amazing to see people engage in that way with a dog.
“I’ve always known Max is a hero. He got me through depression and through Max I have been able to tell my own story to groups of people. He has given me the confidence to do that but he is the one who brought me back from the brink of my own depression and that’s why we do what we do.”
The awards ceremony was hosted by BBC 1 TV’s Breakfast show and Radio 5 Live presenter Rachel Burden and the guest of honour was Falklands War hero Simon Weston CBE. Kerry met Max in 2009 and began walking him as a form of rehabilitation after being seriously injured in a crash.
In 2006, Kerry was seriously injured in a road traffic collision and suffered from excruciating pain, leaving him housebound. In 2009he met Max and began walking him as a form of rehabilitation for the physical and mental implications of his accident.
The judges saluted all four finalists in the Hero Pet category saying they were touched by the mutual love and dedication shown between all four pets and their owners.
They said that all the stories were emotional and incredible and showed the compassion and courage that is often displayed by our four-legged friends.
Kerry began relating their walks on social media, and soon amassed a large following. It was from there they began using their outings to raise funds, with their first charity event raising more than £1,000.
They have raised more that £370,000 in total.
The people of Keswick have taken him so much to heart that a bronze statue was erected to him – paid for by public subscription – in Hope Park.