Jasper and Willow jointly crowned ‘cats of the year’ for bringing ‘comfort’ to hospice

Celebrity judges at this year’s Cats Protection National Cat Awards included Deborah Meaden, Ellen White and Gaynor Faye

<p>The pair, who live at the St Peter and St James Hospice in Haywards Heath, have been announced as the overall joint National Cats of the Year 2022</p>

The pair, who live at the St Peter and St James Hospice in Haywards Heath, have been announced as the overall joint National Cats of the Year 2022

Two rescue cats who live in a hospice have been named joint National Cats of the Year 2022 for the “comfort and support they bring to people at the end of their life”.

Brother and sister pair, Jasper and Willow, won the prestigious award for the joy they bring to the people in St Peter and St James Hospice in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

In 2018, the felines were adopted by the hospice to provide some companionship to those receiving end of life care.

Front of house manager at the hospice, Jackie Manville, said: “We are over the moon that Jasper and Willow have been celebrated for the important role they play at the hospice.

“Since they’ve been with us, they’ve brought comfort to so many people, whether it’s patients, family and friends, or staff.

Jasper and Willow were also crowned the winners in the 'Outstanding Rescue Cat' category of this year's Cats Protection National Cat Awards

“Jasper and Willow really go to show how special rescue cats are, and we’re so proud of them both.”

A celebrity panel – including England Lioness Ellen White and actress Gaynor Faye – were charged with the tricky task of crowning this year’s winner.

Ms Faye said: “I chose Jasper and Willow because of how much comfort and support they bring to people at the end of their life when it may be all they’ve got, and because there’s two of them.

“I have a brother and sister cat and know how much comfort they bring to me and also to each other.”

Jasper and Willow also jointly won the Outstanding Rescue Cat award, voted for by Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, celebrating cats that have been adopted from animal charities.

Ms Meaden said: “It’s amazing to see how two rescue cats are now so happy and comfortable in their role of comforting others who are going through very difficult times.

“If ever cats can show empathy, these two do.”

Jasper and Willow have been awarded a trophy and prize package including a £200 voucher to spend at a pet store.

Other winners include Minty, a three-legged cat from Holywell in Wales, who helped six-year-old Connor Raven cope with severe learning difficulties and medical conditions.

Chicken, who helps 11-year-old Elliot Abery from Thatcham, Berkshire, with his autism and anxiety, and Marley, who works in the Apuldram Centre in Chichester helping adults with learning difficulties.

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