Meet our Wonderful Ambassadors

We are

The National Foundation for Retired Service Animals

The NFRSA is incredibly lucky to have the generous and warm support from our amazing Ambassadors.
We are delighted to introduce them to you.

Our Patron

Sarah, Duchess of York

Minnie Driver

“To be involved as an Ambassador to The NFRSA is my way of showing support to the leading role these extraordinary dogs and horses play in our everyday lives.

Quite simply, they keep us safe. We should do the same for them when their work is done.”

Minnie Driver is an actress, musician, author, and animal lover.

Her films have included Circle Of Friends, Big Night, Grosse Point Blank, Phantom Of The Opera and Goodwill Hunting, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

She has written and recorded three albums, has a podcast called ‘Minnie Questions’ and her first book, ‘Managing Expectations’ is out in May 2022.

Minnie is a lifelong advocate of animals, having offered services to the WWF and numerous adoption programs around the world.

Deborah Meaden

“Emergency service animals play a vital role in keeping the public safe, at times in dangerous and difficult situations. I am delighted to support The NFRSA in their efforts to protect our protectors. These magnificent dogs and horses need and deserve our help in their twilight years.”

Deborah Meaden is a business leader, investor, TV personality and writer, well known for her appearances on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den.

Deborah launched her own glass and ceramics export company straight out of Business College and then went on to set up one of the first Stefanel fashion franchises in the UK.  With several successful businesses in the leisure and retail sector under her belt, Deborah became Managing Director of the holiday park business Westar Holidays, acquired the major shareholding in a management buyout and later sold the company in a deal with Phoenix Equity Partners worth £33million whilst retaining a 23% stake.  Following this, Deborah continued to innovate and develop the company, selling her remaining shares when the business was sold to Parkdean Holidays for £83m.

Deborah first appeared on Dragons’ Den in Series 3 and is known as a shrewd and reasonable Dragon.  The show has led her to invest and advise in all manner of businesses leading to a wide-ranging portfolio covering a variety of sectors from research and fashion to DIY and food. She continues to invest in businesses outside of Dragons Den and most famously saved Fox Brothers, Somerset’s oldest textile mill which now exports across the globe.

Deborah supports ethical, fair practice both in business and in life believing that taking care of the environment and wildlife is essential for our future security and wellbeing.  She is actively involved in numerous charities and is a Fellow of the WWF, a Trustee of Tusk Trust and Ambassador for Micro-loan Foundation, Marine Conservation Society and World Horse Welfare amongst others. She has become a CIWF Compassion Visionary.

Carol Vorderman MBE

These wonderful animals deserve a healthy and loving retirement, and I’m delighted to be involved in this exciting new charity.”

Carol Vorderman MBE has been one of Britain’s most popular TV presenters since 1982. She made her first appearance on the cult quiz show Countdown on the day Channel 4 opened, and carried on solving the “numbers game” for 26 years.  

Carol helped to establish the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards in 1999 and has hosted the show ever since, along with countless other programmes on all major channels.

As an Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, Wellbeing of Women, Prostate Cymru and the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (her brother was born with severe cleft), Carol is a philanthropist, particularly in the field of education.  She became the first female Honorary Group Captain in the RAF as Ambassador for the Air Cadets.

Carol grew up in North Wales where most of her extended family were farmers.  

Dr Marc Abraham OBE
BVM&S MRCVS

“Proud and honoured to be an Ambassador for the wonderful National Foundation for Retired Service Animals. Looking forward to lending my support to such a worthy cause and helping ensure all these brave animals are provided with whatever’s required to ensure their final few years are kept happy and pain-free.”

Dr Marc Abraham OBE or ‘Marc the Vet’ as he’s often known is a multi-award-winning veterinary surgeon, broadcaster, author, and animal welfare campaigner. Marc led the hugely popular Lucy’s Law campaign to victory in 2018 banning puppies and kittens from pet shops across the UK, is the founder of Pup Aid puppy farming awareness campaign, and is secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dog Welfare in Westminster.

Marc’s books include Lucy’s Law: The Story of a Little Dog Who Changed the World and #BeMoreMosquito: How You Can Campaign and Create Change, plus Marc regularly visits local schools to teach pupils about looking after animals and each other. In 2022 Marc was awarded the OBE for Services to Animal Welfare.

Dr Dawn Harper
MBBS MRCP DCH DFFP

“I am honoured to become an Ambassador to the NFRSA. Our emergency service animals dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. In return, we owe them a safe and loving retirement.”

Dr Dawn Harper is a practicing NHS GP and has worked in the NHS for over 30 years. A member of the Royal College of Physicians, she is a popular speaker at events including corporate health and well-being days, Royal Television Society debates and live events such as Countryfile Live, This Morning Live and the Women’s Institute AGM. She has travelled extensively across Europe and the USA facilitating international conferences on chronic migraine, epilepsy and psoriatic arthropathy, and has more to follow this year and next year.

For the last 12 years Dawn has worked extensively in the media. Probably best known as one of the presenters of Channel 4’s BAFTA award winning Embarrassing Bodies, which has now been shown in 120 countries across the world, she has presented several other shows such as the Channel 4 series ‘Born Naughty’.  She has authored 12 books, is a keen supporter of children’s and health charities and is regularly asked to comment on medical headlines on live television and radio. She is also interested in the world of cosmetics and cosmeceuticals and has played a key role in championing the cause for industry regulation.

When not at work, Dawn lives with her husband Jack in the Cotswolds with their four Jack Russell terriers. She is an avid cyclist having cycled thousands of miles over the years for various charities and loves live music, and fashion. 

Patrick Robinson

“I’m delighted to be an Ambassador to The NFRSA as being a custodian of any animal is a privilege. It is also a privilege to support this wonderful venture which will help to keep these animals where they should be, with the wonderful handlers  who have worked alongside them, as well as their families.”

The fifth of seven children, Patrick Robinson was born in London to Jamaican parents. Patrick joined the South East London School Drama Group aged 14. A keen footballer, and the cousin of Ian Wright, he was offered a trial at Southampton F.C which he turned down in order to attend his drama classes. 

After leaving school at 16 he then worked at the Robert Stigwood organisation as a messenger boy for 2 years before going on to attend and graduate from LAMDA with a B.A. Hons. 

He started his career working for the RSC for 4 years, both in Stratford and London, he has since worked with them extensively, his most recent production being THE ROVER at Stratford 2017. 

Patrick is best known for playing the very popular character of ASH in the BBC’s long running medical drama series CASUALTY. 

He can currently be seen playing the major guest role of ’Father Leofstan’ in Season 5 of Netflix’s highly successful THE LAST KINGDOM.  

Prior to this, he recently finished filming a leading role, Lloyd Anderson, in the seventh series of BBC’s SHETLAND.

Patrick led the brilliant cast in the BBC’s timely and important Windrush scandal drama SITTING IN LIMBO, he portrayed Anthony Bryan, a man who after 50 years in the UK is wrongfully detained by the Home Office and threatened with deportation. This is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and Patrick garnered wonderful reviews for his performance. It was the winner of the Best Single Drama at this years BAFTA Awards. 

Patrick is currently in rehearsals for MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, directed by Jonathan Church, playing the role of Monsieur Bouc. This will play at Chichester Festival Theatre & Royal Theatre Bath. 

More recent theatre highlights include; KING LEAR with Sir Ian McKellan at Chichester Festival Theatre, WAR HORSE at the New London, the stage adaptation of Simon Schama’s ROUGH CROSSINGS for the Liverpool Playhouse in which he played former slave Thomas Peters who went on to be a leader in Sierra Leone, a national tour of SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and FESTEN at the Almeida and West End. 

His recent TV credits include; Garfield Tourne in DEATH IN PARADISE & Prospero in the THE TEMPEST both for BBC, regular roles in MOUNT PLEASANT (Sky) and THE BILL, HIM and he starred alongside Dawn French in THE TROUBLE WITH MAGGIE COLE all which were produced by ITV. 

Patrick was just about to open in Jamie Lloyd’s much anticipated production of THE SEAGULL at The Playhouse Theatre with a stellar cast, including Emilia Clarke, when lockdown came into force.

Laurence & Jackie Llewelyn-Bowen

“These courageous animals have kept us and our families safe in so many ways. It’s absolutely appropriate that we should ensure they all have a safe and happy retirement.”

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is a well-known face and voice on television and radio both in the UK and across many global territories. Debuting his flamboyant approach to interior design on the 1990’s hit show, Changing Rooms, Laurence continues to entertain and educate in a wide variety of mediums.

Laurence and his wife Jackie are Ambassadors and Patrons of a number of charities, in particular those dedicated to the research and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and the care of children in Hospices and their families.

Grace Kennedy

“I am so honoured and proud to be an Ambassador for the NFRSA, supporting and helping retired service animals in their deserved retirement.

We owe it to these amazing animals to make sure they are given every chance for a happy and healthy retirement.”

Grace Kennedy is an iconic singer and performer who helped shape the sound of the ‘80s with her unique blend of of R&B, pop, soul, dance and disco, and worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment.

Her journey began in 1977, when a stellar performance on the legendary British talent show Opportunity Knocks prompted the BBC to give Grace her very own Saturday night prime time slot: The Grace Kennedy Show. It ran for six glittering series, quickly becoming a must-see part of people’s weekly schedules and making her one of the first ever Jamaican female entertainers with her own BBC show.

Putting her soulfully smooth voice and knack for genre-shifting at the centre of the action, Grace also welcomed to the stage some of the era’s leading talents – including Bruce Forsyth, The Pointer Sisters, Al Jarreau and Lulu – to create a dazzling display of glitz and glamour, choreography and costume. It was unlike anything else on the TV of the time, winning a BAFTA and catapulting Grace to fame, while giving her the chance to flex both her vocal talents and her flair for entertainment: two skills she fused to forge her own high-profile music career.

Legendary record label DJM and the BBC then joined forces with Grace to record a string of studio albums, galvanising her distinctive combination of disco and R&B. She found fans across the Atlantic too – with hits such as ‘Starting Again’ breaking into the top 30 of the US charts – and worked with ‘80s icon Boy George on ‘The Wishing Well’, a Top 20 hit in the UK.

Grace created something all her own that’s had a lasting impact; her innovative sound is as relevant today as when she laid down her first tracks. Now that legacy is being preserved as the BBC Music Group digitise her back catalogue, featuring remastered recordings, ensuring the Grace Kennedy sound lives on.

Tom Gaymor

I am extremely passionate about supporting our wonderful emergency services animals. Often deployed in the most challenging of circumstances, they provide invaluable assistance in their service to the public and their emergency services colleagues. These wonderful animals deserve the utmost support and care in service and in retirement.

Having retired as a professional racing driver through injury, Tom Gaymor now works as a TV commentator and presenter. Best known for his work on Sky Sports F1, Eurosport, and BT Sport. Tom has also appeared on ITV Sport and BBC 5LIVE.

Most recently Tom’s voice will be familiar to motorsport fans in Britain and throughout the world as the lead commentator on Sky Sports IndyCar and Indy 500 coverage, F1TV, and Eurosport’s coverage of World Superbikes and Le Mans 24.

Alongside Toms TV duties, he works as a consultant in the motorsports industry providing a vast spectrum of deliverables, ranging from brand acquisition, brand engagement, and athlete management to performance development and strategy.

Tom is passionate in his support for all the emergency services and is a Trustee for Flint House, the national rehabilitation centre for Police Officers and is hugely looking forward to his role as Ambassador to the NFRSA, recognising the vital contribution working dogs and horses make towards public safety.

Nick Knowles

“It was only recently the law changed where dogs were once only considered as equipment. The number of lives saved, investigations concluded, and people found by our police/fire/prison/border force dogs is incredible, and the public service of police horses is immeasurable.

I’m proud to be involved with The National Foundation for Retired Service Animals, who will be helping and supporting them in their deserved retirement.”

Nick Knowles is a broadcaster, writer, and producer, and has appeared on our TV screens for over 35 years.

Nationally known for his leading role in BBC’s ‘DIY SOS’ he has been instrumental in building homes for veterans, a garden on the roof of Great Ormond Street hospital, disability surfing centres in Wales, a community centre and boxing gym at Grenfell, centres for children with life limiting illnesses, and many more facilities and homes needed in communities.

He wrote the award winning movie ‘Golden Years’ and the RTS awarded BBC comedy drama ‘Historionics’. 

He has travelled the world making films for the BBC’s Natural History Unit from Borneo to Africa.

He is a lifelong supporter of the emergency services, as well as service and military veteran charities.

Ben Miller

Ben Miller is an actor and children’s author, with a lifelong passion for animals and nature.  On television he is best known as Richard Poole from Death in Paradise, and in the cinema for the Johnny English franchise starring Rowan Atkinson.  He is also the author of nine best-selling children’s books for kids of all ages.

Lisa Maxwell

“It’s an absolute honour to be an Ambassador for this wonderful new charity.

I want to show my gratitude to all of the brave, dignified and loyal superheroes of the animal kingdom for keeping us safe .

We owe it to them all to make sure they are given every chance of a happy and healthy retirement.”

Lisa Maxwell made her stage debut at the tender age of 14 in the original London cast of ‘Annie’, and was the voice of Kira in Jim Henson’s film ‘The Dark Crystal’. Since then she has enjoyed a long and varied career.

In the 80’s Lisa rose to fame as children’s TV presenter on ITV’s ‘Splash’ and BBC1’s ‘No Limits’ and she became a regular fixture on some of BBC’s most popular light entertainment TV shows; partnering Les Dennis in ‘The Les Dennis Laughter Show’, and then as a member of ‘Russ Abbot’s Mad House’, including a season with Russ at the London Palladium.

Other regular appearances followed playing characters alongside Noel Edmonds in ‘Noel’s Saturday Road Show’ & ‘Noel’s Saturday House Party’, Jasper Carrot in ‘Carrot Confidential’, and Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson in the famous series ‘Bottom’.

In the early 90’s Lisa went on to star in her own BBC1 prime time sketch show “The Lisa Maxwell Show.”, a series which led to her being offered a contract with Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

After three years away from the UK, she returned to the West End stage to appear in productions ‘Grease’ at the Dominion Theatre and ‘Boogie Nights’ at the Savoy Theatre.

Following her role as Pamela Ketman in BBC1 police drama ‘In Deep’ with Nick Berry and Steven Tompkinson, Lisa was invited to join the cast of ITV’s award-winning drama ‘The Bill’ as DI Samantha Nixon.

In 2003 Lisa became the subject of ITV’s ‘This Is Your Life’, and in 2004 she played Naomi, the girlfriend of David Wicks in BBC1’s ‘Eastenders’.

Her most recent theatre appearance was as Judy Garland in Peter Quilter’s award-winning play ‘End of The Rainbow’.

Lisa was a semi-finalist in the 2019 line-up of ‘Celebrity MasterChef’ and she has also played Tracy Donovan in Channel 4’s ‘Hollyoaks’, as well as making a guest appearance on BBC1’s drama ‘Casualty’.

She has been well known as a regular panellist on ITV1’s ‘Loose Women’, where her honest opinions have been legendary!

Lisa supports a number of charities and is the longest serving Ambassador to youth homeless charity Centrepoint and a Patron to Cotswold Dogs and Cats Home.

Adam Henson

Becoming a NFRSA Ambassador is an extremely humbling opportunity for me to support this brand-new charity and the incredible work that they are already doing to help retired service animals.

Animals that have worked alongside our nation’s emergency services have dedicated their lives to providing assistance to others, so the NFRSA will ensure they get a well-deserved retirement, and that their welfare needs are met.

Adam Henson is one of the UK’s best-known farmers and presents his own segment on BBC’s Countryfile to millions of viewers each Sunday evening.

Away from camera you’ll find Adam at Cotswold Farm Park helping to protect rare breeds of farm animal and supporting conservation activities on the wider farmland with his business partner, Duncan Andrews, and their enthusiastic team.

Nicky Johnston

“I’m absolutely delighted to be supporting The NFRSA and it’s cause. We need to help.”

Celebrity Photographer Nicky Johnston has been working in the industry for over 25 years.

He started his career at the BBC as a staff photographer, working on shows like ‘Top of the Pops’, ‘Crimewatch UK’, and ‘Blue Peter’, although he admits it was a little different to his childhood memories! “Walking onto those sets after years of watching them when I was growing up kind of took away some of the magic.”

So he started taking portraits of various BBC celebrities, and after 3 years left to go freelance.

Nicky’s work has taken him all over the world shooting celebrities for a host of celebrity magazines, TV companies and PR agencies.

“Even after all these years, I still get as excited about a shoot as I did when I started at the BBC. My passion is photography. I love nothing more than a big shoot with a cast of thousands, the egos, the dramas that sometimes develop – it’s marvellous!”

“After years of shooting I have realised that there is just no point in saying someone looks great when they clearly don’t, I think whoever you are shooting will respect your honesty . When they see the final picture in a magazine and they look horrific, the only person they will blame will be the photographer.”

Nicky’s honesty and straightforward approach has won him millions of fans across the world, and endless friends within the industries he covers – his genuine professionalism and eye for detail has created iconic images across the globe.

Joe Simpson

“As a dog lover, I am honoured to be asked to become an Ambassador to the NFRSA.

The idea that, after years of dedicated service, an animal will be uprooted and forced to move homes upon retirement breaks my heart.

Supporting retired working animals should be the bare minimum.”

Joe Simpson is an international professional rugby player, having represented England, Wasps, Gloucester and Bath.

 

David Gower

“I hadn’t appreciated the potential plight of our retired service animals until Lady Bathurst explained the reasons behind the NFRSA. It took no more than a moment to agree to support this great initiative.”

David Gower was once the golden boy of English cricket, flowing cover drives and fluent stroke-making accompanied, but not diminished, by all the usual human errors of judgement.

His second career was in the commentary box where his love of the English language and a gentle, yet waspish, sense of humour still keeps cricket lovers educated and entertained.

Of his many outside interests African safaris top the list, a tribute to his early upbringing in Tanganyika.

John Inverdale

“This is a a great concept… It’s one of those areas of animal welfare that has slipped through the net, and the more you think about it, the more obvious and essential it seems.”

John Inverdale has been a regular face and voice on TV and radio for more than 40 years – presenting sporting events around the world, and is a director of Cheltenham Racecourse. 

He’s been a dog owner most of his life, mostly Border Collies and Springer Spaniels, and his current best friend is Barney, a 7 year old rescue Springer Spaniel.

Mike Read

“It’s a privilege to be there for all of our emergency service animals. I’m delighted to become an Ambassador to the NFRSA”

Mike Read is a Knight of Malta. He has won ten Broadcaster of the Year Awards, is the author of 40 books, Chairman of The British Plaque Trust, and Ambassador to The Prince’s Trust.

Mike is also a rather good tennis player, songwriter… and dog lover!

CONTACT US

Would you like to get involved, or find out more?

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