Vets’ tribute to heroic animals

The poppy display at Quarrington Veterinary Surgery.
The poppy display at Quarrington Veterinary Surgery.

A display has been created at a Sleaford vets in tribute to more than 60 animals who gave gallant service during military conflicts.

The installation at Quarrington Veterinary Surgery features 68 handmade poppies, one for every recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

The medal is the highest award any animal can receive while serving in military conflict. It is recognised worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross.

There have been 68 recipients since the medal was instituted in 1943 – 32 pigeons, 31 dogs, four horses and a cat.

The display was the idea of Sam Shand, a registered veterinary nurse, though she stresses it was “something everyone got behind”.

Sam, 47, of Scopwick, a former member of the the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, said she wanted to highlight the fact that animals have been used in military conflicts throughout history, describing their contributions in such situations as “truly selfless”.

Sam created the poppies from plastic bottles, with her husband, Jon, 47, then painting them.

Each poppy has a tag on it, with a feather representing the pigeons, a paw print representing the dogs, horseshoes representing the horses, and a cat outline for the only cat on the list, Simon.

They were created by Susan Edwards, practice administrator at the surgery.

The poppies are also numbered, to correspond with individual recipients of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

In the foyer, there is a list of the animals, with their number.

The poppies are to be auctioned off individually, to raise funds for PDSA. The winning bidders in each case will also be given a leaflet with information about the animal behind their poppy.

Sam said her favourite among the 68 may be Simon the cat. Simon was honoured for disposing of rats and raising morale on board HMS Amethyst. This was despite being wounded by a shell blast while the ship was trapped for three months on the Yangtze River in 1949 during the Chinese Civil War.

“I think it’s just because he was a proper fighter, to survive through that,” Sam said, on why Simon may be her favourite.

The display also features a host of white poppies, one for each member of staff at the surgery.

Sam said: “They are a really good bunch. We work incredibly well with each other. They are all, in my eyes, heroes as well.”

To get involved with the auction, visit the surgery in London Road, email it at, or contact it through its Facebook page.