Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden joined us again to host the awards. She told us “I’m a massive animal lover and I’m a vegetarian and I’m delighted to present this every year. I’m overwhelmed by the heroism of the animals and their owners, particularly when a dog has changed a child’s life with a disability. I always need to bring tissues as it’s a tear jerker.”
The judges met up in August to decide on the final three in each category and the process was a hard fought out battle as each judge pushed for their favourites. This year our judges were James Yeates -Chief Veterinary Officer of the RSPCA, Lloyd Embley - Group Editor-in- Chief of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, PC Claire Todd and last year’s Public Service Animal of the Year winner Stella, Peter Egan – highly regarded British actor and animal ambassador, Alesha Dixon - a number one, platinum selling music artist, Nicky Campbell - one of the UK’s most popular and multi-award winning broadcasters, Tom Fletcher - one fourth of undoubtedly one of the most significant pop groups of the past 12 years, McFly, Jeanette Allen - CEO of the Horse Trust and Shiraz Lalani - former executive features editor of the Daily Mirror.
Alesha Dixon, who promotes animal welfare with the RSPCA, PDSA and the Humane Society International, said: “I think this is such a responsible awards ceremony, if we don’t speak out for animals or give them a platform and a voice then no-one will do that for them. I don’t go out often, but this bash is so important.”
Speaking on stage Daily and Sunday Mirror Editor-in-Chief Lloyd Embley said: “It is always a very special evening, and a unique chance to honour some truly amazing animals as well as unsung heroes who have shown outstanding commitment to improving animal welfare.
“I’m proud of the Mirror’s long history of campaigning to protect animals, and with the support of our passionate readers, we are still standing up against cruelty today. For example, this year we have exposed the evils of the puppy farm industry and the horrors of the Yulin dog meat festival.”
The evening started with magic from Britain’s Got Talent winner Lance Corporal Richard Jones before Amanda led the evening into the first award.
One of our biggest supporters Queen rocker Brian May, 69, told us: “I love this event as animals are a big part of my life, unfortunately we don’t give animals enough of a voice in this country so this is special.”
It was a wonderful event with a room filled with passionate and committed voices for the animals, EastEnders actor Danny-Boy Hatchard summed up the evening perfectly ‘This is absolutely one of my favourite nights of the year’.
Outstanding Contribution: Paul O’Grady, whose programmes The For The Love of Dogs and Animal Orphans have made millions of people aware of conservation issues.
Hero Animal of the Year: Baxter the labrador puppy who saved six-year-old Olivia Goodman from choking after suffering a seizure.
Caring Animal of the Year: Haatchi the Anatolian shepherd who has an incredible bond with Owen Howkins, a 10-year-old boy with a rare genetic disorder that confines him to a wheelchair.
Outstanding Business of the Year: Barratt Homes who put animal welfare at the heart of its housing developments, with safe spaces for wildlife alongside new homes for people.
Young Animal Enthusiast of the Year: Joint winners Lucy Gavaghan, 14, who inspired 280,000 people to support her campaign to stop Tesco selling eggs from caged hens. Liam Landymore - Started his own initiative for charity Dogs Helping Kids after they helped him battle PTSD and depression aged 12.
Vet of the Year: Janey Lowes who gave up her job in England to set up charity WECare Worldwide to treat sick and injured street dogs, cats and monkeys in Sri Lanka.
Animal Enthusiast of the Year: Martin Hemmington, who set up the National Fox Welfare Society and devotes his life to protecting foxes.
Rescue Animal of the Year: Lucy the rescue cavalier who was used for puppy breeding but after being rescued is a leading ambassador in the campaign against puppy farming.
RSPCA Superstar: Mike Butcher is the RSPCA’s longest-serving frontline officer and has defied death threats to bring some of Britain’s most notorious animal criminals to justice.
Public Service Animal: GMP horses Hexam, Captain and Tangle braved fireworks and smoke bombs to prevent violent clashes between football fans after a match at Old Trafford and helped evacuated 75,000 during a bomb scare.
Rex the military dog - Served on the front line in WW2 and helped sniff out mines, before he was denied a medal and cruelly put down after it was discovered he was a stray.
Special Recognition: Sue Dicks and PC Lee Webb who have been recognised for their groundbreaking work with rescue dogs, with 12 of them becoming police sniffer dogs.
Lifetime Achievement: David Shepherd, who founded the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which has raised more than £7million to fund conservation projects in Africa.