It's a dog's life! Duchess of Cornwall and Kimberley Walsh meet adorable guide dogs at Clarence House
14:47 GMT, 18 October 2012
It was puppy love for the Duchess of Cornwall and pop star dancer Kimberley Walsh as they met a group of adorable trainee guide dogs today.
The Girls Aloud singer, currently starring in BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, met Camilla at Clarence House, the Prince of Wales’s official London residence, to unveil one of the country’s most remarkable volunteers.
Madeline Mason, from Luton, is a puppy walker for Guide Dogs for the Blind and brought along some of her four-legged friends to meet the pair.
The Duchess of Cornwall and Kimberley Walsh petted Badger the guide dog with Diamond Champion volunteer Madeline Mason
Both women couldn’t resist getting on their knees to cuddle up to the puppies and even posed with 15-week-old black Labrador Badger. Kimberley, who was holding the pup’s bottom, cheekily told Camilla, who was holding his head,: ‘I think you’ve got the best end!’
Fortunately there were no accidents in the royal residence – in fact all the puppies were impeccably behaved.
The two women came together to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee project set up by the charity WRVS to celebrate the country’s most prolific volunteers over the age of 60 – the Diamond Champions.
Kimberley, 30, is an ambassador for the competition while the Duchess is its patron.
The first recipient of an award was Mrs Mason, 65, a former teacher who has worked as volunteer puppy walker for Guide Dogs For The Blind for 14 years.
Volunteer puppy walker Trisha Balson (second right) and puppy Nia meet The Duchess of Cornwall and Kimberley Walsh at Clarence House
So far she has trained 12 puppies, looking after them from just six weeks to 14 months old.
Asked whether it was a wrench to hand back the pups, she said: ‘I think the fact that you know they are going on to achieve something so wonderfully worthwhile makes it so much easier than you would think.
‘I am very proud to be a Diamond Champion as I know the difference a guide dog can make to the life of its owner.
One of her success stories, three and a half year old Zed, was there with his new owner, Terry Brewell, 67, from Bracknell, and threw himself across the room in his excitement to see her again. ‘I couldn’t believe that he recognised Madeline after all this time,’ Mr Brewell exclaimed.
The Duchess and Kimberley looked entranced as they cuddled puppy Badger, who was there with his walker, Roy Brown.
‘I think it is really wonderful that you do this as I don’t think I would be able to hand them back,’ said dog lover Camilla, who has just adopted her second Jack Russell puppy from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
Guide Dog Zed with owner Terry Brewell attempt to restrain Badger, who appears to be a big fan of Kimberley
‘Oh he is gorgeous,’ said Kimberley as she tickled Badger under the chin.
The singer, who had briefly nipped out of rehearsals for this weekend’s Strictly, where she is being partnered by Pasha Kovalev, laughed at jokes that she might need one of the dogs to lead her round the dancefloor. ‘It might come to it!’ she giggled.
Asked why someone so young had become involved with a group for older people, she said: ‘Volunteering is something you can do at any age In the village where I grew up you would always help people who were in need, whether it was an old lady with her shopping or someone who needed a hand at home. I would love to be able to encourage younger people to do the same now,’ she said.
Kimberley, who had briefly nipped out of rehearsals for this weekend's Strictly, laughed at jokes that she might need one of the dogs to lead her round the dancefloor
‘It’s nice to be able to make a difference, even in a very small way.’
As Kimberley and the Duchess walked out there was only one topic of conversation on their lips, however: Strictly.
Camilla, who has visited the show’s set and even danced with judge Craig Revel-Horwood , admitted that she is a ‘huge, huge fan.’
‘I will be watching at the weekend and cheering for you,’ she told Kimberley, who said in shock afterwards: ‘Wow. How nice was that!’