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Peter Hawthorne is expert on the ‘Animal Victoria Cross’, the Dicken Medal, awarded by the British animal charity PDSA for acts of loyalty and bravery by animals in the service of humans. The award carries the name of Maria Dicken, founder of the charity. His book, The Animal Victoria Cross – The Dicken Medal was published following many years of research by Peter who is a graduate in Law and Modern History from Lampeter University. Following an early career working as a Senior Legal Associate at Royal Bank of Scotland, Peter entered the teaching profession specialising in history and law. A former assistant head teacher he is currently Head of History at a school in Shropshire.
Peter’s interest in the Animal Victoria Cross was inspired originally by an article in the Daily Mail in 2007 which told of animals performing seemingly heroic acts. He learned of Simon the cat on board HMS Amethyst who saved the ship’s company during the ‘Yangtse Incident’ in China at the time of the communist uprising. Discovering that no book had been published on the subject due to a lack of material (during the Second World War records were not kept as paper was in such short supply), he set about researching each Animal Victoria Cross winner. Of the thirty-two pigeons, thirty-four dogs and five horses Simon was the sole feline winner.
It’s hard not to be moved by the stories of Judy the English Pointer who survived a sinking, a bombing, being torpedoed and three years of living wild outside of a brutal prisoner of war camp. And more recently Roselle, the dog who managed to lead her partially sighted owner down seventy-eight flights of stairs to safety after the 9/11 attack on the first of the Twin Towers.
Peter tells their stories with humanity, detail, and humour.
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