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Labrador retriever Holly was forced to take a 12-month break from her role as canine consultant in the city’s world-famous children’s hospital when the pandemic hit and rigid restrictions were in place – but now she’s back, and staff and patients are thrilled.
“We’re delighted to have Holly and her owner Barry back at the hospital,” says volunteer manager, Anne Doyle.
“Holly brings a welcome distraction to our children, young people and families, and she offers the best cuddles as well as some light relief in often stressful situations.”
And she adds: “Therapy dogs provide many proven physical and emotional benefits. It’s so lovely to see how much joy she brings to everyone around her, including the staff.”
Holly is owned by former paramilitary police officer Barry Lea and the pair are regular visitors to the outpatients department at Alder Hey.
They aim to bring ‘love and cuddles’ not only to patients but also their families and hardworking staff.
During the pandemic Barry volunteered at MacHouse and then trained as a Covid-19 vaccinator, giving hundreds of people their jabs, but now – although some restrictions still apply – the dynamic duo is back at Alder Hey, doing what they do best.
Barry says: “Alder Hey has taught me a great deal. I have ever-greater respect and admiration for staff across the hospital. I’m proud to be a volunteer and for Holly and I to be just small cogs in the great big loving, caring, mending ‘machine’ which is Alder Hey.
“It’s great to be back bringing more joy and cuddles.”
Among those welcoming their return was five-year-old Alexander who has apnoeas (he temporarily stops breathing) when he has a chest infection or chesty virus.
His mum Nicola says: “We love Holly doggy, she always manages to cheer my little boy up and he loves giving her a treat.
“A therapy dog in the hospital 100% made our stays and appointments so much easier. Holly is a special doggy and her owner is so good with the kids. Thank you Holly.”
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