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Above: A Pearly King with a horse ‘saved from slaughter’
Below: Recreated by comedian Bill Bailey
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Blue Cross Fund for Wounded War dogs, US fundraising poster (created during WWI) recreated by Paralympian Lauren Steadman and her rescue dog Kira

Three animal-loving celebrities – comedian Bill Bailey, actor and TV presenter David Harewood MBE, and Paralympian Lauren Steadman MBE (with her rescue dog Kira) - have teamed up with national pet charity Blue Cross to recreate images from their historic archives. 

The stars stepped back in time to recreate three images from Blue Cross’ heritage*, dating all the way back to WWI and WWII, to commemorate 125 years of the charity helping pets and people.

Originally known as ‘Our Dumb Friends League’, Blue Cross was formed in 1897 to help the working horses of London, who were often underfed, struggled to carry heavy loads and became injured on slippery asphalt roads created for new motor vehicles. Fast forward to today, and the charity continues to support pets and people through its veterinary, rehoming, pet behaviour, education, and pet bereavement services.

Since its formation, the charity estimates that it has positively impacted a staggering 38 million lives and it plans to help more than 120,000 pets over the next three years through its services.

Bill Bailey, says: “I had a great time transforming into a Pearly King! I love all animals, so having an opportunity to celebrate Blue Cross’ heritage and highlight the support that they have continued to offer to horses, and other animals, since their inception was really special. Congratulations on reaching your 125 milestone Blue Cross, and thank you for all that you do for both pets and people.” 

David Harewood, added: “I am so thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful celebration, and to have had the opportunity to recreate such a special moment between a British soldier and his dog. This campaign not only highlights how long Blue Cross has been around to support pets and people, but also how the love for animals can also span across generations – I’m so proud to be involved!”

Lauren Steadman, says: “It was wonderful to have my beautiful dog Kira on set with me to create this image of a WWI nurse treating a wounded dog. Kira is a rescue dog, so I have a huge appreciation for the work that Blue Cross and pet charities do. Happy birthday Blue Cross, and congratulations on your 125th year.” 

Iain Heaton, Deputy CEO and CFO at Blue Cross, says: “We are delighted to share these recreated historic images with our supporters, beneficiaries, and the British public. Bill, David, Lauren, and our hard-working rehoming team have done a phenomenal job at demonstrating how we have supported both pets and people over the last 125 years, and we can’t wait to see people’s response.  

Since Blue Cross’ formation in 1897, we have been present for both people and pets during key moments in history, and we continue to support them through our veterinary, rehoming and behavioural services to this very day. 

But our job is not done, and we are needed today more than ever. So, as well as celebrating our illustrious heritage, we hope that this campaign helps to drive further awareness and understanding of our cause.” 

To learn more about the Blue Cross and heritage, visit: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/125-years-of-blue-cross 

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Visiting day – WWII soldier visits his dog in the ODFL Charlton kennels (captured during WWII) 
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Recreated by David Harwood and Dutch shepherd, Kit – who was rehomed by Blue Cross