Popular local radio presenter Emma Britton and pet beagle Billy have been named as patrons of St. Margaret’s Hospice.

Billy is believed to be the first ever animal patron for a hospice in the UK and is already a big hit with patients and staff.

A seasoned Breakfast Show presenter for both BBC Somerset and BBC Radio Bristol, Emma is very familiar with the Hospice’s work and has regularly featured St. Margaret’s staff and supporters on her show to share their stories.

Somerset born and bred, Emma was keen to affirm her support of St. Margaret’s, which has centres in Taunton and Yeovil as well as five community based teams.

Billy was equally pleased to become a patron and adds his responsibilities to those he already has as a registered ‘Pets As Therapy’ (PAT) dog, regularly visiting residential homes for elderly people throughout Somerset with Emma.

Emma said: “Billy and I were delighted to be approached because we are both big supporters of the hospice.  Billy loves meeting new people and helping them feel relaxed, and he especially likes a cuddle.  Cuddles are free and, I find, almost certain to cheer you up.”

Ann Lee, Chief Executive said: “Emma has been a great advocate for the work we do in Somerset, personally and through her role as a BBC radio presenter where she has given us an invaluable public platform to tell our story.

“Pet therapy has been shown to increase pain tolerance, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and bring smiles to patient's faces. It can be especially useful in the hospice setting for patients who have withdrawn from the people around them but find interacting with an animal easier and less painful. Our patients, staff and volunteers are already looking forward to Emma and Billy’s next visit.

“We cannot thank Emma and Billy enough for agreeing to become official patrons.”

Find out more about our Patrons and Celebrity Supporters here