Canine Partners was founded in 1990, thanks to Anne Conway (Assistance Dogs enthusiast and dog welfare campaigner) and Liz Ormerod (well-known vet and Animal Assisted Therapy expert) , who had spent several years researching Assistance Dog programmes worldwide during the late 1980's. Canine Partners was based on the model of The SOHO Foundation of Holland, an established assistance dogs programme.
Anne and Liz were joined by Nicky Pendleton who, as an Occupational Therapist, brought expertise in the field of disability, and by Roger Jefcoate CBE who became our Vice President and sponsored the training of the first three dogs, Alex, Angus and Alfred, in 1994.
The Charity rented various Hampshire-based premises over the years. It wasn't until 2003 that we began to operate from a Training Centre of our own, in Heyshott, West Sussex. A former polo yard and farm with various outbuildings, the Heyshott site had potential for conversion to specialist facilities. Dogs were trained while building-work progressed and the Centre was officially opened in 2005 by our Patron, HRH the Duke of Gloucester. Our facilities lead the way in accessibility for disabled people.
We are indebted to all those who have played their part in getting us to where we are today, and to the funders of our facilities including The National Lottery, The Bradbury Foundation, The Clothworkers' Foundation, The Henry Smith Charity, The James Tudor Foundation, The Lockwood Family Foundation, The Monument Foundation, The Patrick Frost Foundation. We also thank Colonel and Mrs Alan Jukes, Lord and Lady Kindersley, and a whole range of other trusts and individuals from our "extended family" in the community - your generosity has helped to make our dreams become reality.
With over 1 million people using wheelchairs in the UK, we are aware that there is still a great deal of work for us to do, and our next step must be to open a second Training CEntre in the Midlands.