Hexam, Captain and Tangle braved fireworks and smoke bombs to prevent violent clashes between football fans after a match at Old Trafford.

Rex cleared a path through a Second World War minefield under fire, but was denied a bravery medal and destroyed when chiefs discovered he was a stray.

Paul O’Grady’s deep love of animals has its roots in childhood summer holidays to his father’s family farm in Roscommon, in the west of Ireland.

When the young David Shepherd was rejected by the Slade School of Fine Art for having “no talent whatsoever”, he resigned himself to life as a bus driver.

david shepherdHe had already been told he would never fulfil his boyhood ambition of working as a game warden in Africa, after a fruitless trip to Kenya in 1949.

But after a chance meeting back in London, he was taken under the wing of artist Robin Goodwin, and went on to become the world’s greatest wildlife painter.

It was another chance encounter that turned him into one of our most notable conservationists too.
He was on a trip to East Africa in 1960, having been commissioned by the RAF to paint his first wildlife picture, of a rhino on a Kenyan airstrip.

During the trip he came across 255 dead zebra at waterhole in Tanzania that had been poisoned by poachers.
From that moment on he vowed to do everything in his power to protect the wildlife that have given him so much success as an artist.

He started by donating pictures to help fund conservation projects. His iconic painting Tiger Fire raised £127,000 for Operation Tiger in 1973, which helped raise the population of the species from between 50 and 60 up to 450.

In 1984, he founded the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which has raised more than £7million to fund conservation projects in Africa and Asia.

But his success can be measured in so much more than purely financial terms.

The Foundation has also helped to save the Siberian tiger from almost certain extinction and trebled the size of a South African national park, reintroducing black rhino and cheetah after an absence of over 170 years.

It has funded some of Africa's largest seizures of illegal ivory and paid for a vital state-of-the-art communications network for rangers patrolling

India’s Kaziranga National Park and neighbouring strongholds of critically endangered tigers, rhinos and other species.

Recently, it has set up Zambia’s first elephant orphanage project and a vital park protection programme to help combat increasing wildlife crime in the region.

Now 85, David is still a tireless force fighting on behalf of the animals he loves. He still donates paintings and hosts fundraising dinners, and in 2011, he launched a new campaign to save the tiger in the wild.

TigerTime has been backed by celebrities and campaigners including Ricky Gervais, Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Sir Michael Parkinson, Naomie Harris, Brian Blessed, Susan Sarandon, Sir Roger Moore, David Gower, Jeremy Irons and Anjelica Huston.

David’s vigour and enthusiasm for the project still shine through. He says: “TigerTime is very exciting. More and more people are realising we cannot go on destroying the species around us. When you’ve seen a tiger in the wild you never want to see anything else. They are just mind-boggling.”

After being supported by Dogs Helping Kids to overcome a traumatic childhood incident, Liam now campaigns with them for cruelty-free training methods.

liam landymoreLiam was 12 when he was referred to Dogs Helping Kids to help him battle PTSD and depression. He had been self-harming since the incident when he was seven and attempted suicide twice in his early teens. He was so nervous in public situations he struggled to go out, or to attend school.

DHK founder Tracey Berridge offered to help Liam train the Landymore family dog Charlie, who was just out of puppyhood, to become his personal school support dog. With Charlie at his side, Liam’s confidence blossomed and he was able to cope with the symptoms of his PTSD and depression.

And working with Charlie also unlocked in Liam a deep compassion and understanding for dogs, and he developed a strong interest in dog training and behaviour. He started to become more involved with the charity and helped out at educational workshops for teachers and other children.

By 2014 he had started his own initiative for the charity called Liam's MOB - Men on Board, to inspire men to be kinder to their dogs and to use only positive force-free training methods.

He has persuaded leading dog trainers Nando Brown, Steve Mann, Chirag Patel and Jordan Shelley to support him and last year he spoke at The Bite Prevention Conference at Lincoln University.

DHK’s Tracey Berridge says: “Liam has been on an amazing journey. We are very proud of the person he has become today and all he has achieved for dogs and their welfare.”

Inspired 280,000 people to support her campaign to stop a supermarket selling eggs from caged hens.

lucy gavaghanWhen Lucy, 14, discovered that Tesco was selling eggs from caged hens, she started writing letters to stores. When that wasn’t successful, she was not put off, and started a Change.org petition, which has now been signed by 280,000 people.

Lucy, from Sheffield, said: “I thought that a petition may be able to create the impact needed to make a company like Tesco change their ways. I think that animal welfare and commercial treatment is a really important issue and I know that many others share this view.”

Lucy has five hens of her own, including two who used to live in commercial barns, and one that was rescued from a cage.

Battery cages have been banned by the EU since 2012, but Tesco sells eggs from hens kept in “enriched cages”, which still only allow a each hen floorspace equivalent to a sheet of A4 paper.

In July, Lucy’s campaign persuaded Tesco to change their policy, and they have announced they will stop selling eggs from caged hens by 2020.

She said: “The petition to Tesco is a first step to achieving higher welfare standards for all hens. I have been amazed at the amount of support the petition has had, and the amount of signatures it has gathered in the short time it has been online.”

Janey Lowes gave up her job in England to set up a charity to treat sick and injured street dogs, cats and monkeys in Sri Lanka.

janey lowesJaney was so moved by the plight of the animals she saw on holiday in Sri Lanka in 2014, that upon her return, she immediately pledged to go back and help them.

She set up a charity, WECare Worldwide, which treats sick and injured dogs, neuters and vaccinates them and provides education on animal welfare to the local population.

In 2015 Janey and her team neutered almost 900 dogs and cats, vaccinated more than 1,300 dogs, cats and monkeys against rabies and treated more than 400 sick and injured animals.

This year she became the first vet to receive a Points of Light award – an accolade given by the Prime Minister to volunteers who make positive changes in their community.

David Cameron said: “She has undoubtedly changed the fate of scores of vulnerable animals by protecting them from disease and providing much needed care.

“I am recognising Janey as a Point of Light, not only for the positive impact she’s had through helping animals in need, but also for the countless people that will have been protected from rabies by her work.”

Their groundbreaking work with rescue dogs has seen 12 of them become police sniffer dogs, including previous Animal Heroes award winner Stella.

sue dicksSue, who works at RSPCA West Hatch, assesses rescue dogs before putting them forward to be trained by Lee and the team of handlers at Avon and Somerset Police.

So far 12 Staffordshire bull terrier-type dogs have completed the training, which starts with Sue teaching them to find a tennis ball to see which animals will be suitable.

She then works closely with Lee to get them through their training and into their new working lives.

Their most recent success story, Boris, highlights the importance of their work. He was brought into the Centre after being given up by his previous owner. He had been living in difficult conditions with a large number of dogs and was suffering from a painful skin condition.

After Sue spotted his potential, he has now graduated from search dog training school and is set for a productive new life with the Police.

Sue said: “All the dogs in our care are special in their own way, but I knew the minute I saw Boris that he was going to stand out. I’m delighted that he is going on to be an important member of the local police force. He will also be joining our wall of fame of rescue dogs at West Hatch that have all gone on to be working service dogs. We really could not be prouder.”