A black tie event for Battersea Dogs Home

The brave animals went from strays to stars, posing for the paparazzi on the red carpet as part of the legendary Guard of Honour at the Home’s annual Collars & Coats Gala Ball.

The event, which took place in Battersea Park’s Evolution, was attended by royalty and stars of stage and screen, among them Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Lulu and actress Prunella Scales, and hosted by singer Peter Andre.

However, the Country Life photographer and I were, as you might expect, rather more interested in the four-legged attendees.

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In preparation for their big night, the dogs had been groomed, clipped and bathed, and given a special blue Battersea dog coat to keep them warm. One lucky pooch was even sporting a miniature Barbour jacket.

For some of them, the evening was a chance to catch up with old friends. Lily the Jack Russell, who had been rescued from the Hangar Lane gyratory and brought to Battersea a number of years earlier, had found a new home, but was back for one night only by popular demand.

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For others, it was their first time on the red carpet. Peter the giant schanuzer, the largest of the Guard of Honour, had only been at Battersea for a few days, but he gamely allowed himself to be petted by passing celebrities.

Spencer the Norfolk terrier was a particular favourite with the guests, and his professionalism under the spotlight was a joy to behold.

Once the entertainment was well underway indoors, the Guard of Honour returned to the Home with their minders, tails wagging with pride at a job well done, for a slap-up meal and a well-deserved rest.

Thanks to their efforts, and those of their human counterparts, the evening was a tremendous success, raising thousands of vital pounds-it costs more than £14 million annually to run the Home, and it receives no Government funding, relying entirely on the support of the public to care for lost and abandoned animals. Visit www.battersea.org.uk for more information.

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