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Celebrities Shine Spotlight on Animal Hero Awards

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High-profile pals to those with paws applauded the courage of canines and those with a passion for compassion at the first ever Animal Hero Awards.

Queen guitarist/animal activist Brian May and his wife, actress Anita Dobson; girl group members Kimberly Wyatt and Ashley Roberts of The Pussycat Dolls and Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud; Britain’s Got Talent winners Ashley and Pudsey; Coronation Street star Helen Worth, boy band McFly and the evening’s host, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden (seen in the photo below with RSPCA Chief Inspectorate Officer Kevin Degenhard) were among the many stars who showed their support for the evening’s honorees at The Langham Hotel in London.

EllieThe presentation–which was made possible through a partnership between The Daily Mirror and the RSPCA– praised Ellie the Greyhound as the Hero Animal of the Year. Confined for years to a concrete kennel with little food or bedding and suffering from flea bits, pressure sores and infected burns before her rescue, today the 10-year-old former racing dog spends her weekends helping to raise funds for canines in the care of Greyhound Rescue West of England. A gentle soul who knows the need for comfort, Ellie helps new foster dogs adjust to their life post-rescue and cuddles those who are facing their final hours.

The award was co-presented by British TV journalist Emma Crosby, who said: “Ellie was such a worthy winner – her story is a real tear jerker and she gives voice to what so many other greyhounds have to go through.

“What is so upsetting is the state she was in when the owners found her. The way she turned this around to become the caring animal she is today is a testament to those who rescued her as well as herself.”

RSPCAThe RSPCA Superstar of the Year Award was presented to RSPCA Animal Collection Officer Derek Hampson, who makes the season bright for our homeless barking buddies in Liverpool animal centers by dressing up as ‘Santa Paws’ each Christmas– taking holiday snapshots with families and their four-legged family members, offering tasty doggie treats and raising funds for rescues. For the past quarter of a century Hampson has worked diligently to help create a better tomorrow for Liverpool’s animals in need through his position at the RSPCA.

RSPCA Chief Executive Gavin Grant said: “People like Derek are the life blood of the RSPCA. He is so committed and just never stops working.

“He not only works incredibly hard saving animals on the frontline in his day job, but more often than not ends spends his days off volunteering at a wildlife centre, taking his place in a water rescue team and raising funds for the charity too.

“It is a real pleasure to be able to recognise his hard work in this way and be a part of these very special awards.”

The evening’s Celebrity Animal Supporter of the Year went to Peter Egan. The actor known stateside as “Shrimpy” on Downton Abbey uses his star status to shine a spotlight on such organizations as Nowzad, All Dogs Matter, Our Friends Dog Rescue and Animals Asia.

Also among the winners in the evening’s 12 categories was Brin, a former stray who saved the lives of British troops serving in Afghanistan by alerting them to the presence of an explosive device. Rescued by Nowzad Dogs, today Brin lives in England and helps to raise funds to care for Afghanistan’s stray dogs.

For more information regarding the RSPCA:

Photo Credit: RSPCA

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About Grace Sydney

Grace Sydney is the Assistant Editor of DogTipper.com and CatTipper.com, covering celebrity-related rescue news. She operates the @HollywoodDogs Twitter account sharing information on celebrity fundraising for rescues and shelters.