WATCH: See the moment this unsung hero is given a stunning surprise on national television

Sophie Wellum-Mayes with one of the dogs she helped Picture: BONCE PR

Sophie Wellum-Mayes with one of the dogs she helped Picture: BONCE PR - Credit: BONCE PR

It’s always nice to receive an unexpected surprise - but Sophie Wellum-Mayes got an even more special one than most, after she was handed a special gift on national television.

The unsung hero helps run the vital Brainy Dogs project, where rescue hounds are trained to become companion dogs by prisoners at Suffolk’s Hollesley Bay - so they can be rehomed to support people with brain injuries.

Her work since 2011 has been of vital benefit not only to prisoners but also those with neurological conditions - and has given 70 dogs a new start in life.

But little did she expect when she turned up at what she thought was a colouring competition that a stunning gallery of all the people and dogs she had helped over seven years had been made for her - with a film crew on hand to film the moment she discovered her surprise.

The moment, which took place at Snape Maltings, will now be broadcast on prime-time Saturday television during the commercial break for this week’s X Factor.

Those who Sophie had previously helped suprised her Picture: BONCE PR

Those who Sophie had previously helped suprised her Picture: BONCE PR - Credit: BONCE PR


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“I was very shocked,” she said. “I really didn’t expect it.

“Even when Ginette (who nominated Sophie) told me everyone was here I still couldn’t take it in.

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“I thought I was coming to judge a colouring competition from some local children.

“I have the best job in the world. I feel very lucky. I get to work with dogs and it’s really rewarding too.

Sophie's surprise will now be airing on ITV Picture: BONCE PR

Sophie's surprise will now be airing on ITV Picture: BONCE PR - Credit: BONCE PR

She spoke about one recent “long day” in particular - but said it was worth it because: “I found the ideal dog for one of our clients.

“We’d been looking for over a year so it was worth all the hard work.

“I cannot thank the National Lottery enough. It has literally been a once in a lifetime experience for me – and something I will never, ever forget.

“And if this film helps to raise awareness of our work than that’s even better.”

Dogs and owners helped by Sophie gathered at Snape Maltings Picture: BONCE PR

Dogs and owners helped by Sophie gathered at Snape Maltings Picture: BONCE PR - Credit: BONCE PR

One of the rescue dogs from the Brainy Dogs project greets Sophie Picture: BONCE PR

One of the rescue dogs from the Brainy Dogs project greets Sophie Picture: BONCE PR - Credit: BONCE PR

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