Words by Abi Scaife
With the sad news of the unexpected death of comedian and presenter Paul O’Grady MBE comes the opportunity to look back.
Paul was a huge advocate for so many charitable causes, and as we mourn his passing and think of his family during this difficult time, it is important to look at his history of philanthropy and remember what a brilliant, generous, and caring person he was.
Since 2008, Paul was an ambassador for Save the Children, a charity dedicated to helping protect children around the world. He advocated strongly for the protection of children overseas, as well as in the UK, and even visited Freestate, South Africa with Save the Children, to see the work they are doing caring for children living with HIV.
In 2012, Paul began one of his most famous ambassadorships with Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, following his TV series For the Love of Dogs. He was a huge advocate for rescuing animals, and worked with the charity closely on the series, visiting three of their different rescue centres across the country and meeting dogs in need of a forever home.
“Battersea will forever remember Paul as a devoted animal lover with the biggest heart, who fell head over heels in love with every dog he met at our centres,” said Battersea chief executive Peter Laurie. “Paul will always be associated with Battersea and we are truly saddened to have lost such a true friend and huge part of our charity.”
Ever the dog lover, in 2013, Paul joined Amanda Holden in the Pedigree Feeding Brighter Futures campaign, which aimed to give a million meals to rescue dogs nationwide
After his work on Paul O’Grady’s Animal Orphans, Paul became a patron of Orangutan Appeal UK, advocating for more protections for these precious animals in their habitat.
Later, in 2015, Paul won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Animal Welfare at the RSPCA’s Animal Hero Awards.
"Paul O'Grady's love for animals and the incredible way he told their stories inspired countless families to re-home rescue pets and give them a second chance of happiness,” said Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the RSPCA.
"His tireless campaigning saw Paul recognised with an RSPCA Animal Hero Award for his outstanding contribution to animal welfare, while he once adopted a little lamb Winston from us who had been rescued from a wheelie bin.
"The thoughts of all at the RSPCA are with his loved ones and our friends at Battersea at this difficult and sad time."
If you want to honour Paul's life, please consider donating to, or volunteering with, one of the charities listed here.