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Orpington therapy dog helps children to practice reading over half term break

PUBLISHED: 09:06 12 June 2018

Therapy dog Gunner was on hand to listen to children read over half term. Picture: Nugent

Therapy dog Gunner was on hand to listen to children read over half term. Picture: Nugent

Archant

Children who visited Nugent shopping centre in Bromley over the half term break had the opportunity to practice their reading skills with friendly, furry companion Gunner, Orpington’s resident therapy dog.

The free event was organised by Nugent’s owner British Land, and gave local children the chance to read a book to Gunner while he sat and listened.

The six-year-old German Shepherd is part of the Therapy Dogs Nationwide charity, an organisation responsible for qualifying dogs to take part in therapy sessions.

The idea behind the reading sessions is that Gunner passes no judgement on the children’s ability to read – allowing them to continue uninterrupted and ultimately build their confidence.

Gunner regularly visits care homes, primary schools and special needs schools across Orpington to provide comfort to patients.

Tina Powley, centre manager at Nugent, which is based in Cray Avenue, Orpington, said: “We are always looking for new experiences to offer customers while they shop with us, and we were keen to put on an event that would not only be fun for children during the half-term break, but also educational.

“Gunner went down brilliantly with children and parents alike, and it was brilliant to see and hear the children bring the stories to life.”

Lois Hyett, Gunner’s owner and volunteer at Therapy Dogs Nationwide, said: “Gunner has been a therapy dog since he was 11 months old.

“His temperament and character led me to apply to join the charity and I’m proud of all the work he has done to date to help people across the region.

“Myself and Gunner love getting out and meeting people across the region and thoroughly enjoyed our time at Nugent.”

Nugent has also recently joined the Dementia Action Alliance, with all staff now fully trained to support shoppers living with dementia.

In recognition of this, Tina Powley has received an award from British Land for her work in the community.

The dog therapy event was part of a wider programme of community initiatives at Nugent this year, including the upcoming Young Reader’s Programme, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, which will see local schools visit the centre to take part in literacy-themed storytelling sessions.

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