A Cumbrian therapist has been introducing a special visitor to her patients to help with their recovery.

Ted the therapy dog has been brightening up the day of those living with mental health problems in the county.

Hannah French, an occupational therapist at the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services across the county, is behind the initiative.

She started bringing two-year-old Ted to visit patients after studying pet therapy as part of her university course.

He is now a regular visitor at the Acorn Centre, at Carlisle's Carleton Clinic, helping patients get well, active and to find purpose.

Hannah, who owns Ted, said: “Whilst I was at university, I did a specific unit on pet therapy and how this can benefit patients.

"I thought Ted would work well as a therapy dog because of his friendly and loving nature."

She added: “Ted’s trips to the Acorn Centre started when one particular patient mentioned how much they loved dogs, so one day I brought Ted in and everyone loved him.

Ted works with patients, helping them recover and reach their goals by going on walks and providing comfort, affection and entertainment.

She said he also enjoys barking along to songs with patients - and is a particular fan of Amy Winehouse!

One patient said: “Having Ted come to visit was incredibly rewarding, it allowed me a few moments of feeling content, stable and happy.

"When I knew Ted was visiting it gave me a purpose to complete a simple task such as getting up and dressed, it gave me the driving force to see the day through. Seeing Ted made me smile and I felt calm, like my anxiety had been lifted.”

Hannah added: “Pet therapy is evidenced based and is proven to make a positive difference to many people in many ways and different environments, including mental health.

"At the Acorn Centre, and other mental health wards, Ted is really helping patients to reach their goals of what’s important to them and is helping them to make a purposeful and meaningful recovery.

"Having Ted on the unit also makes it more homely for both patients and staff.”

Another patient said: “I look forward to Ted visiting, he always runs straight to me when he arrives and I enjoy walking him.

"He’s a lovely dog, makes me feel better and reminds me of my dogs at home.”

Ted now visits the Acorn Centre, a specialist 10-bed unit for men with complex mental health needs, every Tuesday - on what is now known as Ted Tuesday’s.

The patient who originally inspired Hannah to start pet therapy is now looking to start college to study animal care. He has now started a work placement, working with dogs, to build up to this.