New training centre is top priority for new boss of Sheffield-based Support Dogs charity

The new boss of Sheffield charity Support Dogs has made finding a new national training centre a top priority.
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David Hobson, who became chairman of the board of trustees on January 1, said Support Dogs needed a larger, ‘more appropriate’ rural premises in the South Yorkshire area.

The aim is to expand its work for families affected by autism, epilepsy and disability.

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Mr Hobson, who is project director of the Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield and has more than 40 years’ experience in the building and construction industry, said a bigger, fit-for-purpose national training centre would allow the charity to grow and be more efficient.

David Hobson with his two rescue labradors, Ted and Harry.David Hobson with his two rescue labradors, Ted and Harry.
David Hobson with his two rescue labradors, Ted and Harry.

For the past 20 years Support Dogs has been based in a light industrial estate in Brightside but growing demand for its services - which the charity provides free – is now prompting a move.

The charity trains assistance dogs for children with autism and adults with epilepsy and physical disability, enabling them to lead safer, more independent lives.

Mr Hobson, aged 65, also pledged to make sure the charity was able to carry on its life-changing work during the pandemic.

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“We need to make sure that we continue to operate during these difficult times and that we have a strong charity when it is back to ‘normal’,” said Mr Hobson, who joined the charity two-and-a-half years ago.

“We need a centre that gives us the facilities to give the best support for people as they are trained and partnered with one of our amazing support dogs.”

Mr Hobson also has two rescue labradors, Ted and Harry.

He added: “My wife Julie and I take inspiration from the training that Support Dogs provides, but alas with our dogs it’s very much work in progress,” he said.

“I continue to be amazed at how dogs trained by this charity can have on people with epilepsy and disability and youngsters with autism, and how they can change their lives.”

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Chief executive of Support Dogs Rita Howson said: “It’s a difficult time to take on this new role of chairman of trustees, but we very much appreciate David’s skills and experience as we embark on the next stage of our development and provide more life-transforming human/canine partnerships.”

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