Hospital worker Linda Pugh and her support dog Buddy have been spreading smiles and inspiring their colleagues at the Royal Stoke.
Partially-sighted Linda, from in Trent Vale, works in Cancer Services at the hospital and brings Buddy – who has been assisting her since 2016 – with her each day.
The 54-year-old’s colleagues have praised her attitude at work and commitment to the NHS – and Buddy hasn’t been left out either!
She told StokeonTrent Live: “Having Buddy has opened my world up. He has his cheeky side but so do I!
“I have the best of both worlds because he’s my best friend and looks after me, too.”
This week, in a letter to the University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) NHS Trust, Linda’s colleague and consultant Upper GI and Bariatric surgeon, Mr NS Balaji, said the following:
“As I cycle into work in the morning amidst the empty roads in the thick of the pandemic, the sight of Linda and Buddy walking into work fills me with awe, admiration and respect for these two NHS stars.
“Linda is partially sighted and our good friend Buddy brings her to work daily. In fact, their office is not too far from ours.
“Buddy is an amazing companion full of energy and charm. I spend a few minutes occasionally playing with him when I walk past the office and greet them with a ‘Hello’.
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“Linda’s commitment to work at challenging times and seeing her with Buddy out on the road very early in the morning in spite of her disability makes me proud of belonging to a dedicated group of colleagues who have the passion, commitment and drive to keep doing their part and helping others wherever possible.
“That is what makes the NHS what it is and why it is a beacon of hope, pride and honour to each one of us. We are proud of you Linda and Buddy! Thank you.”
Linda said that she ‘choked up’ when she first read the letter, explaining it was ‘very nice’ to be appreciated.
She added: “I walk to the hospital each morning with Buddy from Trent Vale and Mr Balaji will cycle past and say hello.
“He’s such a nice chap and always has a smile on his face – I don’t think I’ve ever seen him with a frown. He inspires me and Buddy is always excited to see him.
“It’s so nice to be noticed but it’s completely unexpected. I feel very humbled.”
Next year, Linda will celebrate 20 years of working at UHNM. Her current role is in Cancer Services – which she started in 2003.
Linda said she is ‘really proud’ to work for the NHS, especially during these current, difficult times.
She added: “We have a good team and we all have a good sense of humour, which is really important.
“I have a little office on my own and I even have a baby gate across the door so I can keep the door open and Buddy can say hello to everyone.
“With the work I do, I feel like I make a difference and I’m helping people.”
Linda also says four-year-old Buddy is just as much a member of the UHNM team as she is.
She added: “As well as being my guide dog, he’s also the team therapy dog – every department should have one.”
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Also a breast cancer survivor having undergone treatment in 2012, Linda was cared for at the Royal Stoke and said she felt lucky to have her colleagues around her when she beat the disease.
She explained: “I was a patient but I also knew the other side too. I could ask the right questions and I felt more in control knowing all of the information.
“I would also know exactly who I was talking to on the phone whenever I rang. It’s a lovely team.”
Linda would like to thank Mr Balaji for his kind letter, as well as everyone else who left comments of support for her on social media.
Linda said: “All of the comments on Facebook were so kind.
“A lot of people commented saying they had seen me around – even when doing my shopping in Tesco. It was lovely to read.”
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