October 26, 2021
Winner Stories

1996 National Lottery winner trains Support dogs

1996 National Lottery winner trains Support dogs


Deana Sampson, a past National Lottery winner has found a new purpose as well as an innovative way to keep fit during lockdown. Along with Support Dogs, a charity very close to her heart, Deana will be training disability assistance dogs.


Support Dogs

Sampson, who cashed in a $8.2 Million lotto win in 1996 tragically lost her brother to an epileptic fit. He was only 40 years old at the time.


“The charity is extremely close to me, particularly as it helps people with a whole range of needs and disabilities. I know how much my brother struggled with his epilepsy and he unfortunately lost his life as a result.”


Weeks before the nationwide lockdown was announced in hopes of curbing the spread of COVID-19, Sampson took on her first pup to train. A sweet golden lab named Regis.


“I had a whole host of training lined up for my new puppy – going out in public to busy places, restaurants and parks – but after lock down was enforced I quickly had to adapt and focus all of the training with Regis to my kitchen and back garden!


The 57 year old takes part in online training classes through Support Dogs. The charity based in Sheffield, England provides, trains and supports partnerships between those living with disabilities and special assistance dogs. Their hope is to increase independence for those with disabilities such as epilepsy, autism and/ or physical disabilities. Presently the charity assists more than 100 families.


“She is a real lifeline”. said Danny Anderson, Funding Manager of Support Dogs. “These dogs give people a totally new lease on life and enable them to do things they wouldn’t previously have been able to do without this support”

Duties of a Support Dog

“The dogs are trained to identify when someone is within one hour of having a seizure – before the person even knows themselves. They will stare and nudge their owner until they take action to put themselves in a safe place until the seizure has passed. It could be that they then just lie next to them to comfort them, they could be trained to bring them a blanket, their telephone – a whole range of things. These dogs really are remarkable.


“Alternatively, it could be found that the dog, following training, is more appropriate to support someone with autism, providing them with on-going comfort so they are able to go to more places without feeling anxious and lead more independent lives.”


In just over a year’s time, 6 month old Regis should complete his training and move on to a full time day school. This is where he will be assessed and where the decision is will be made regarding who he could best support. He will then be placed with a family with whom he will work with for up to 8 years before being retired at the age of 10.


What are you busying yourself with during is keeping you busy this lockdown? Read more winners stories here.

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