Wilson the cheeky Shetland pony steals show at star-studded Mirror People’s Pet Awards

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This little pony stole the show at a glittering event to honour the nation’s most fabulous furry friends.

From Wilson, the well-shod Shetland pony who comforts the sick and elderly, to a rescue dog the size of a small elephant, there were no end of heart-warming stories at The Mirror People’s Pet Awards.

Hosted by Loose Women panellist Judi Love, the awards were handed out at the Grosvenor House hotel in Mayfair, London on Thursday night.

Celebrities, including Bake Off star Candice Brown, entrepreneur and royal brother-in-law James Middleton, and broadcasters Charlotte Hawkins, Eamonn Holmes and Angela Rippon, were there.

Many brought their own pets to add to the fun.

The Mirror People’s Pet Awards, in partnership with Dogs Trust and Webbox, will premiere on YouTube on Tuesday at 7pm.
Wilson the Shetland pony – caring animal
Trotting into the awards hall with all the confidence of an A-lister, it is clear that Wilson knows how to work a crowd.

And sure enough, cheering people up is how the little Shetland pony spends his days.

For the last five years he has been visiting the elderly, sick and disabled across Scotland, to offer comfort, along with owners John and Elaine Sangster.

Sensitive to noise, little Wilson was saluted with jazz hands from the audience instead of applause.

John said: “We find so many people in the care homes used to ride horses, and for them to suddenly see a pony in their bedroom or in their lounge, well it’s a real wow moment for them.”

Elaine added: “Wilson is part of the family, he is cheeky, and gives us so much pleasure. He is the same when he visits other people, so it is great to be able to share that.”

Wilson’s little black rubber shoes also proved a great hit, but Elaine explained they were a practical choice to stop him slipping on indoor floors – and they were actually bought from Build-A-Bear.

Peg the Afghan rescue – Inspirational Animal of the Year
When paratrooper Conrad Lewis spoke to his family about his time stationed in Afghanistan, it was the dog he had befriended called Peg who was forefront in his mind.

In February 2011, parents Tony and Sandi were given the horrific news that Conrad had been killed, aged 22, by a Taliban sniper.

Tony said: “My son would have been devastated to think of Peg out there without him – so we knew we had to get her over here.”

The Nowzad charity brought Peg over to the UK, where she settled in happily with the family.

Since then Tony and Sandi have raised £1.2million to go towards charities such as Nowzad.

Presented with their award by actor Peter Egan, Tony and Sandi received a standing ovation.

Galahad the mastiff – Dogs Trust Dog of the Year
Weighing 100kg – the same as a small elephant – Galahad was the biggest pooch Dog’s Trust ever tried to rehome.

He eventually struck lucky with Colin and Lindy Dimmock and son Matthew, 15, who is autistic, in Kent.

Colin says: “We’ve had three mastiff crosses before so his size didn’t bother us – he’s not that big to me.”

Clearly Galahad, five, is not too aware of his size either, as he thinks nothing of climbing on to the sofa for a cuddle.

Lindy joked: “He thinks he is a lap dog and has no respect for personal space. The funny thing is his back end might be on you on the sofa, but his front legs will still be on the floor.”

And Matthew said: “He’s just really nice. He’s a gentle giant.”

Minty the 3-legged cat – Webbox Joy of Pets Award
Siobhan Raven took a shine to stray Minty, and moved him into her home in Holywell, Flintshire.

But a week after she gave birth to son Connor, Minty was hit by a car and lost a leg.

Meantime Connor, now seven, was struggling with learning difficulties as well as medical conditions that make it hard for him to be mobile.

But rather than being scared, Minty took the role of carer.

Siobhan said: “Connor can be unpredictable, but Minty is patient. When Connor is at his most in need, Minty is there.

“Minty would spend hours jumping one step a time, stopping to allow Connor to catch up.

“It was incredible to see him encourage Connor to achieve something he found so difficult.”

Akitas Flora & Kin – Caring Animal
Robert Stuhldreer and his dogs got an award from Emmerdale ’s Natalie Anderson but soon ramped up the drama beyond soap-opera levels.

The 61-year-old from London had been reclusive and suicidal until Akita pup Flora came to live with him nine years ago.

She warned him when his cardiac syncope and epilepsy were about to cause a blackout or seizures.

Robert said: “It revolutionised what I could do.”

He got Kin to keep her company and she took over when Flora died this year.

He now has Astrid too. On stage, Robert proposed to partner Mark Wilson, who accepted.

Host Judi Love joked that she was “emotional out of jealousy”.

Tuk’s Law – Special Recognition
Tuk was a Romanian rescue dog who came to the UK but was passed on via Gumtree without the charity’s knowledge.

Though healthy and just 18 months old, he was taken to a vet and euthanised.

Had the vet checked his chip, they would have seen their client was not the owner and the charity had guaranteed him a home for life.

Volunteer rescuers Dawn Ashley and Sue Williams found other cases too.

Dawn said: “It seems like such a simple thing to check the chip of a healthy pet before they are euthanised – why does this not happen every time?” The pair’s petition has been discussed in Parliament.

Hel the husky – Team Dogs Hero Animal
Terry Walsh and Hel were on their daily walk when the husky began nosing at a pile of rags.

Terry, 64, said: “I thought she had stumbled across a discarded blanket. But suddenly I heard this baby cry. I think it was Hel’s gentle nudging and her body heat that woke the baby up.”

Astonished, Terry rushed over and found a baby boy, just a few hours old, tucked up in a Matalan T-shirt and wrapped in a blanket in an open space in Kings Norton, Birmingham.

The baby was taken to hospital, where he was called George, and is now with a foster family.

Given his award by Victoria Ekanoye and Danny Hatchard, Terry praised Hel’s caring nature.