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Nala launches Evelina London Pets book

Posted on Friday 18th December 2015
Evelina London patient, Amelie, Nala the dog and CBBC presenter Naomi Wilkinson pose with the Evelina London Pet Book

Nala the dog, Evelina London patient Amelie and CBBC presenter Naomi enjoying the book launch

A book celebrating the important role that pets play in the lives of patients at Evelina London Children’s Hospital has been launched at a special ‘paw signing’.

Nala, the golden retriever Pets As Therapy dog who has been visiting patients at Evelina London for seven years, launched Evelina London Pets with the help of CBBC presenter Naomi Wilkinson and Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya.

Evelina London Pets is inspired by our patients and their families who talk fondly about their own pets when they spend time with Nala and her owner Sandy during her weekly ward visits.

Amelie Hanna-Shaikh, 12, from Kensington, and her dog Buster appear in the book. Amelie was at the paw signing with her mum Caroline.

She said: “The first time I was staying in Evelina London I was not feeling great and I was quite sad. My Grandma turned around and said ‘Look, a dog’. I saw Nala and she made me feel so happy.

“The second time I saw her she made me feel so much better again – it goes to show how good dogs can be. We got Nala a present but before we came to see her Buster pinched it and was playing with it, it was so funny!”

CBBC presenter Naomi Wilkinson, who helped Nala to sign the books with her paw, said: “It’s great to see such a lovely book full of so many special pets. We’re big fans of animals at CBBC.

“I’d love to have a pet, but because of the travelling I have to do when we’re filming TV shows I can’t have one at the moment. I grew up with dogs and, if I was at home more, I’d love nothing more than a dog like Nala.”

Nala and Sandy visit Evelina London once a week to spend time with patients. They are part of Pets As Therapy, a national charity which provides therapeutic pet visits to hospitals, schools and care homes.

Nala’s owner Sandy said at the event: “The book launch was a wonderful moment for me. The role of pets in children’s lives is so important.

“Nala will have to retire one day, but in her place will come other therapy dogs that will play the same role. It’s not just one dog, it’s all dogs and animals that make such a difference to children’s lives.”

Melinda Edwards, clinical child psychologist at Evelina London, encouraged patients to send in their pictures and stories of their pets for the book. She says: “Pets play such an important role in the lives of children and families. Having a pet can teach a child how to look after and care for another living thing. This can be vital for children who are in hospital or who have long-term illnesses, as it takes their mind off being the patient.

“Pets can also give children confidence, companionship and unconditional love, which is so important when they are coping with the challenges of being unwell.”

Evelina London Pets costs £3.99 and can be purchased by emailing Melinda.Edwards@gstt.nhs.uk. The proceeds of the book go directly back to the hospital.

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