A retired search dog who was believed to have been the oldest working Mountain Rescue dog in the UK has been awarded an “animal OBE” for her service.
Before hanging up her lead back in 2020 at the age of 14, Skye the Border Collie had carried out 200 searches during her 11 impressive years of working in the Lake District fells, and it’s because of these countless courageous acts that she has been awarded a prestigious PDSA Order of Merit this week.
The PDSA Order of Merit was set up in 2014, is known as the animals’ OBE, and according to the charity, recognises animals that display outstanding devotion to their owner or wider society, and go above and beyond companionship.
Born in 2006, Skye served as a puppy trainee with Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), and after qualifying as a Mountain Rescue Search Dog in 2009, she went on to serve with Duddon and Furness, Langdale and Ambleside, and finally, Kendal MRT, where she finished her career.
Skye and her handler, John Leadbetter, also attended searches outside their MRT areas in Lancashire, the Pennines, and Scotland.
During her expansive career, Skye searched day and night in all kinds of weather, even in the face of 70 to 80mph wind, and had worked in the highest Lake District Mountains, some of the remotest valleys, and even Morecambe Bay’s coastal expanse.
Skye is the 36th animal to receive the PDSA Order of Merit.
Speaking on the renowned achievement, Mr Leadbetter said: “Skye means everything to me, she’s my best friend on the fells and we’re life-long partners.
“To see her receive the PDSA Order of Merit is a truly humbling and touching experience, and it’s a wonderful recognition of the time and hard work that search dogs and their teams dedicate to mountain safety.
“To say we’re chuffed is an understatement.”
“Skye is a worthy recipient of the PDSA Order of Merit for her long and distinguished career of outstanding service to society,” the charity said.
Jan McLoughlin – Director General at PDSA – added: “We’re incredibly proud to be honouring Skye with our PDSA Order of Merit as her exceptional skills and outstanding devotion above and beyond that of normal companionship make her a very worthy recipient.
“We feel this is a fitting tribute to her lifetime of dedication and hard work.
“Her long and distinguished career has not only seen her protect and help people in danger, her ambassadorial work has helped to raise important funds and increase awareness of the incredible work these Mountain Rescue teams perform.”
Now almost 16, Skye is enjoying her retirement with Mr Leadbetter and his family – who say she still loves to get out on the hills and fells, only just at a slightly slower pace these days.
Paddy McGuinness teases potential return of Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere
Right, we don’t mean to alarm you all, but Max and Paddy might finally be coming back after nearly 20 years.In other entirely unrelated news, there is a god.
We only ever got one solitary season of Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere, but it only took six episodes for it to leave us with lasting memories of rolling on the floor laughing and quoting lines all these years later.
The Phoenix Nights spin-off went on to be not just a cult favourite but an iconic British sitcom that rivalled the show that spawned it, cementing both Peter Kay and Paddy McGuinness as even greater household names than they already were.
Cut to nearly two nearly full decades later and Paddy himself has teased that the hit Northern comedy might not be done after all. Battle stations, people — we’re on the campaign trail now.
Speaking to Capital Breakfast this week, McGuinness came on to the subject of Max and Paddy return, saying that “the interesting thing about Max and Paddy, and Phoenix Nights is now, we are kind of all of an age of the people we played back then.”
He admitted that while they “do talk about it and what have you” and would love to see the full cast return someday, he just “can’t see it at the minute”.
However, he did go on to insist “never say never” and, more promisingly, that the comedy duo’s comeback, specifically, could very well be on the cards.
“Like Max and Paddy, for instance, we wrote a couple of Christmas specials, and we’ve still got them”, says McGuinness. “We never got around to doing one for whatever reason back in the day. But we’ve actually got them.”
The 49-year-old went on to clarify that more than one script has already been written for some time, but they’ve just been kept on the backburner given that he is admittedly “inherently lazy” and likes “doing as little as possible”, it just never came to fruition.
“If you’re doing a scripted comedy show, it does take a long time. So to do something like [this], you have literally got to blank out 12 months of your life.
“He [Kay] is on tour. I’ve got all kinds of stuff going on, and it’s just sort of going ‘right, let’s get together. Let’s get our diaries together. And let’s blank out for that time'”. We don’t know a single person that wouldn’t want to see a Max and Paddy return in some form.
While hosts Roman Kemp and Siân Welby urged people to get flooding them with texts and posting all over social media, the former Take Me Out presenter joked it “won’t make a blind bit of difference.” Come on, Paddy, don’t let us down now.