Animal charity Blue Cross, which has a rehoming centre at Wiltshire College in Lackham, has been shortlisted in the public sector and not for profit category of the second St John Ambulance First Aid Awards. Staff and students at the college care for and rehome unwanted cats and kittens.

The charity will find out if they’ve been successful at a glittering event in London on November 19, hosted by survival expert Ray Mears who has himself used first aid many times. It is set to be an inspirational occasion, showcasing first aid success stories across the country.

Blue Cross was established in 1897 to look after abandoned or injured pets giving them a healthy life in a happy home. The charity has 76 first aiders covering 462 employees at its 12 centres and four animal hospitals.

Blue Cross take a multi-faceted approach to supporting the health and wellbeing of the staff, in which first aid and safety play a prominent part. Staff at the charity’s head office in Burford, Oxfordshire are Community First Responders (CFRs) for the local ambulance service. CFRs are volunteers trained to attend 999 calls in their local area and provide emergency medical care until an ambulance arrives. Blue Cross account manager Mark Aspell, who is a first aider and community first responder, said: ‘In addition to looking after thousands of sick, injured and homeless pets every year Blue Cross has also always striven to care for its people. It’s an honour to be recognised as a finalist in the first aid awards.’ The awards were first launched in July last year to celebrate individuals, businesses and communities that are leading the way in first aid. Trophies go to organisations who have exemplary first aid standards and heroes who have been the difference between a life lost and a life saved. Blue Cross is up against four other nominees in its category and is also battling it out to be recognised in the overall category of Organisation of the Year.

Awards at the celebratory black-tie awards dinner will be presented by celebrities including Dragons’ Den star and businessman Duncan Bannatyne, singer Michelle Heaton who needed first aid when she collapsed at a marathon and TV presenter Matthew Wright, whose life was saved when he choked.