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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Tom Bryant & James McNeill

Paul O'Grady's death sparks wave of love for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Donations to Paul O’Grady’s beloved animal centre look set to hit £100,000 this weekend.

A “tribute fund” in memory of the star, who passed away on Tuesday aged 67, had last night racked up £90,000 and could smash through the £100,000 barrier this weekend. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said it has been “overwhelmed and touched” by the reaction of the public after the TV star's death.

Chief Executive Peter Laurie said the charity – which featured in the comic’s TV show Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs – had received countless letters, calls, emails and messages of support. All the money donated will go towards the running of the charity, which has featured in 10 series of the hit ITV show.

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The eleventh and final series will air posthumously later this month. Mr Laurie hinted the home was considering a permanent tribute to the star, The Mirror reports.

He said: “We will be looking to find a suitably fitting way to remember the profound impact Paul had at Battersea and the rescue animal sector – something that will support the animals Paul loved so much, and that would make him proud.” Battersea says Paul is to thank for raising the profile of the charity across the globe.

Donations have flooded in from around the world because the show is broadcast in dozens of countries. Paul regularly spoke of his love for the show, and the home. He said in 2012: “Hand on heart. This has been one of the nicest jobs I’ve ever had.

“Battersea is a magical place. People think it’s all doom and gloom but it’s not, it’s such a happy place. I’ve had a ball. It’s such an enriching place to work. I’m coming back. They can’t get rid of me.

“Once I became really involved, I’d go home and worry about the dogs. I’d be ringing friends saying, ‘I’ve found a lovely dog for you’. The aim of the game for me became to re-home these dogs.

Paul O'Grady and his dog Buster arriving for the National Television Awards in 2005 (PA)

“I’d like to see this place empty. All go off to nice homes. Hopefully, after watching the programmes, that what’s going to happen.”

Paul adopted several dogs from Battersea including chihuahua Jack Russell cross Eddie, shih-tzu Boycie, Maltese Conchita, mongrels Arfur and Nancy, and Sausage, a dachshund.

Paul, also known for his famous drag alter ego Lily Savage, died “unexpectedly but peacefully”, his partner Andre Portasio said in a statement. Yesterday Andre posted a picture of the pair on their last holiday early this year.

He said of tributes he has received: “I’m so very touched and I’m sure Paul would be too! I found the last picture we ever took together. Unbeknownst to us back in January this would be our last ever holiday together.”

It was also revealed Paul’s final ever radio show will be re-broadcast on Easter Sunday in tribute. The two-hour show, which originally aired on Christmas Day last year, will be played in its entirety.

Paul joined Boom Radio last Christmas after 14 years at BBC Radio 2. He was due to host an Easter special which the station hoped would be the start of a more regular series. Producer and pal Malcolm Prince said: “He’d find this festive repeat at Easter time very amusing.”

A past episode of game show Blankety Blank with Paul as Savage alongside stars including Dale Winton will be screened on BBC1 tonight.


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