Paul O'Grady: Battersea Dogs & Cats Home names vet hospital after late broadcaster and 'champion of the underdog'

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Monday would have marked Paul O'Grady's 11th anniversary as an ambassador for the animal rescue and rehoming charity

A new vet hospital and a fund to help cats and dogs in need of life-changing medical treatments will both be dedicated to the UK's late "champion of the underdog".

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home say Monday (16 October) would have marked the 11th anniversary of Paul O’Grady becoming an ambassador for the animal rescue centre. The popular TV presenter died in March 2023 aged 67, "unexpectedly but peacefully".

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The charity said more than 20,000 donations totalling £480,000 were made in Mr O'Grady's honour following his death. After consulting with his family and friends, Battersea has shared  how it plans to use the money. In addition to honouring the late presenter by naming Battersea’s state-of-the-art new clinical facilities ‘The Paul O’Grady Veterinary Hospital’, the charity will spend the funds helping dogs and cats who need specialist care and treatment. 

In a statement, Battersea said that where possible, its animals were treated by Battersea’s expert veterinary team. But in some cases, external specialists and surgical teams were needed. Battersea would use the tribute fund on life-saving and transformative medical treatments for the animals in its care.

Late broadcaster and presenter Paul O'Grady was a long-time ambassador for Battersea (PA Wire)Late broadcaster and presenter Paul O'Grady was a long-time ambassador for Battersea (PA Wire)
Late broadcaster and presenter Paul O'Grady was a long-time ambassador for Battersea (PA Wire)

This would help dogs like two-year-old Newfoundland, Peggy, who Mr O'Grady met whilst filming the last series of his ITV show Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs. The presenter followed Peggy’s progress as she underwent life-changing surgery during her time at Battersea before going on to find her forever home. Battersea would also distribute £100,000 of the donations to five other charities close to his heart; Freshfields Animal Rescue, Carla Lane Animals in Need, The Oldies Club, StreetVet and RSPCA Ashford Garden Cattery.

Battersea chief executive Peter Laurie said: “We’ve been overwhelmed and deeply touched by the generous donations from thousands of people following the death of our beloved Ambassador, Paul O’Grady. It really is a testament to how loved Paul was, and we shall always be forever grateful for everything he did for us."

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As an ambassador for Battersea, especially during his 11 years filming For the Love of Dogs, Paul helped animals in their recuperation from surgery, he continued, and at times, watched as they headed offsite for specialist surgery. "Naming our veterinary hospital after Paul, therefore, feels fitting. We are pleased to also be able to share donations with other charities who support rescue animals.  

"Paul was always a champion of the underdog, and we’ll be carrying on his legacy, by ensuring we use the funding to go the extra mile for animals that need costly surgery, medication, or rehabilitation," Mr Laurie said.

Mr O'Grady's husband, Andre Portasio, said: “Seeing how loved Paul was by so many has been truly touching. Paul was so passionate in his support of rescue animals, and it gives me some comfort to know that through the hard work and commitment of Battersea and other charities Paul’s legacy will live on. I know that Paul would have been pleased to know that the most disadvantaged animals he was so fond of championing are getting the love and support they deserve.” 

Paul O'Grady rose to fame during the 1980s and 90s with his drag queen persona Lily Savage. He later switched to broadcasting, and presented a number of shows for ITV over the years, including a number about animals. O'Grady was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2008 for his services to entertainment.

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