Introducing Robin and Pandora

On June 2nd this year, there will be a dog show in the village of Sevenoaks Weald, to which everyone – with or without a dog – will be very welcome.

The light-hearted and fun dog show will commemorate the passing of Pandora in February this year and raise some funds for a very good cause. Pandora was a Canine Partner assistance dog who provided such help and companionship to Robin Marchant, who has lived in the village or nearby all his life.

Robin was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2002 and by 2008 was confined to a wheelchair. The excellent charity Canine Partners stepped in to help, providing chocolate Labrador Pandora in 2011 to help Robin with a wide range of tasks, including but not confined to picking things up, fetching things, pushing buttons and helping with removing clothes.

Assistance dogs such as Pandora give their human friend a much needed boost of confidence and make their life so much more complete.

Together, Robin and Pandora were a familiar sight around the village, and at Canine Partners fundraising events. They were also to be seen at various sporting events, Robin continuing to attend Kent Cricket Club championship matches, for example, and swimming every day for 80 or so lengths at the Sevenoaks Leisure Centre. He has also continued to compete in the swimming leg of the annual 7Oaks Triathlon, doing so for the last five years.

In fact, Pandora was a canine member of the Kent Cricket Club where she met plenty of players including Jack Russell, the former England wicketkeeper and Kent captain, Sam Billings, she even had her own badge sewn on to her Canine Partners jacket.

Indeed, Robin has no small history with sport, and sport at a prominent level too. As well as a founder member of the Sevenoaks Tri Club and competing in Ironman events, he ran numerous marathons including the London marathon five times and the New York marathon as well, recording his best marathon time of 2 hour and 42 minutes and an Ironman time of 11 hours and 22 minutes.

At a younger age, he was Kent under-18 men’s doubles badminton champion and he also played in goal for the Sevenoaks Weald Football team where he picked up his nickname ‘Tef’, as nothing stuck to his hands. Robin also played for the Weald village Cricket Club, for Sevenoaks Vine and Holmesdale juniors, Shipbourne Cricket Club and was also a fully qualified cricket scorer and umpire, helping in the Kent League Premier Division, at Tonbridge School and the Vine.

Pandora assisted with so many aspects of Robin’s life, and the Pandora village dog show on June 2nd will be a commemoration of her, as well as a nod to the extraordinary work of dogs like her and Canine Partners, which provides the training that makes these working pets such life-savers for their human partners.

For more information about Canine Partners visit their website at www.caninepartners.org.uk