BELLA, the miniature poodle has made lots of new friends in Runcorn.

She met a group of stroke survivors to introduce them to Pets As Therapy.

This charity, founded in 1983, provides therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes and special needs schools.

The Stroke Association’s communication support croup meets each fortnight at Murdishaw Community Centre an helps stroke survivors to cope with aphasia and difficulty in using language.

Marilyn Underwood from Pets As Therapy brought Bella along to the group, bringing back happy memories for former pet owners and providing more information about the charity.

Research has shown the many benefits that interaction with animals can achieve in promoting health and well-being, and addressing the physical, emotional and social aspects of a person’s recovery.

Stroke survivor Elaine Davies, who regularly attends the group, said: “As a dog lover with three border collies myself, I understand the health benefits of having a pet. The whole group really enjoyed the visit and it was a really interesting session.”

Karen Davies, communication support co-ordinator at the Stroke Association, said: “Our group loved meeting Bella and she sparked lots of conversation about dogs and pets that people had owned themselves in the past, which is very beneficial to our group members with difficulties in using language.

“We would welcome Marilyn and Bella back any time.”

The Stroke Association provides communication support and an information, advice and support service in Halton, in partnership with NHS Halton Clinical Commissioning Group.

For more information about stroke, call 0303 30 33 100 or visit