AN UNLIKELY member of staff has been crowned employee of the month for his work with patients on hospital wards across East Lancashire.

Therapy dog, Jasper the cockapoo, doesn’t wear a uniform, but is guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of patients and staff when he visits wards at East Lancashire’s NHS hospitals.

Chief executive of the hospitals trust, Kevin McGee, awarded Jasper with the accolade due to the effects he has on patient and staff morale and his therapy work with stroke patients.

Mr McGee said: “Jasper has become somewhat of a local celebrity around the trust.

“We have received some extremely positive feedback from patients, families and staff; not many people pass him in the corridors without stopping to say hello.

“I want to say a huge thank you to Jasper’s owner and hospital chaplain, David, for all the hard work he puts into making the therapy dog initiative happen.”

Reverend David Anderson decided to train Jasper after the hospital’s last therapy dog, a golden retriever named Saoirse, moved away from the area when his surgeon owner changed jobs.

And upon completion of a 10-week training programme to ensure he was prepared to work within a busy ward environment, he was more than ready to start doing the rounds on the wards.

Mr Anderson said: “Jasper is absolutely delighted to have been awarded employee of the month.

“It came as a wonderful surprise and we are truly grateful.

“He’s not just here for the patients; he gives a real boost to the staff too.

“It’s good for the staff to have a laugh and a giggle, he brings a smile to their faces and that is the most important thing Jasper can do – make someone smile.

“People change when they see him, their faces light up and they benefit from being in his company.”

At the moment, Jasper is undertaking therapeutic work with people affected by strokes.

Under the supervision of physiotherapists, patients are encouraged to use their hands and fingers to touch Jasper to help aid recovery. If you or a loved one are staying at Royal Blackburn Hospital and would like a visit from Jasper, email therapydog@