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Dee Bonett from Maidstone goes up against Ricky Gervais and Paul O'Grady in Gamechanger Awards

A Maidstone campaigner who single-handedly persuaded Maidstone council to alter its pet policy when housing the homeless is set to go up against Ricky Gervais and Paul O'Grady for a national animal welfare award.

Dee Bonett campaigned for the changes after her best friend took his own life after being separated from his beloved dogs and cat.

Happier times: Dee Bonett with John Chadwick before his death in 2017
Happier times: Dee Bonett with John Chadwick before his death in 2017

She is now a finalist in the national Gamechanger Award, being given out in the 2022 Paawstival Awards.

It recognises an individual who "has done great things for animals’ welfare from raising awareness to changing the law."

O'Grady has hosted a TV programme highlighting the work of the Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, while Gervais has campaigned against the use of animals in scientific experiments.

Ms Bonett began campaigning after the tragic death of John Chadwick in 2017.

Mr Chadwick who had been homeless, had been told he could not take his dogs Theo and Tinkerbell and his cat Gizmo into the permanent accommodation found for him by the council.

Rather than be separated from them, Mr Chadwick took his own life.

Comedian Ricky Gervais
Comedian Ricky Gervais

Subsequently, Ms Bonett campaigned tirelessly until she was able to persuade the council to alter its policy so that homeless people could take their pets into its emergency accommodation, and could refuse any offer of permanent accommodation that did not accept pets, without its affecting their legal right to a home.

The council has even named the new approach the John Chadwick Pet Policy.

Ms Bonett is one of 15 people short-listed for this year's Gamechanger Award, including comedians and TV personalities Gervais and O'Grady.

She said: "To find myself alongside the likes of Ricky Gervais and Paul O'Grady is just amazing!"

The winner will be announced in September after a nationwide public vote.

TV star Paul O'Grady
TV star Paul O'Grady

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time or click here to visit the website.

To vote for Ms Bonett, click here.

Ms Bonett is continuing to campaign to see the new Maidstone policy rolled out by other councils across the country.

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