A former soldier and his dog from the Isle of Wight have won at the Armed Forces Community Awards, Soldiering On 2023.

Jonathon Giemza-Pipe and Baxter travelled to the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster, London, on Wednesday (September 27), to attend the awards as shortlisted finalists in the Animal Partnership category.

The award honours the unique relationships and achievements of individuals or organisations engaged with animals.

Jonathon was medically discharged from the armed forces in 2016, after 22 years in the army, and struggled to regain direction in his life.

Isle of Wight County Press: Jonathon Giemza-Pipe and his canine partner, Baxter.

During the early days of his rehabilitation, a therapist suggested an assistance dog.

A beautiful partnership was born when Jonathon was introduced to his canine partner, Toby, and these days, it is Baxter who helps his human best friend with daily life.

The two dogs changed Jonathon’s entire outlook, and he credits them with getting him back on track.

Jonathon now supports other veterans through their mental health challenges, travelling from the Island to work with the Veterans' Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, run by Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

His role as a peer support worker is bolstered by Baxter, who accompanies him to veteran drop-in sessions at Bicester in Oxfordshire.

ITV newsreader Lucrezia Millarini presented the Animal Partnership Award, naming Jonathon and Baxter as winners. 

Lucrezia said on social media: “What an honour to announce the winner of the Animal Partnership Award for Soldering on Awards 2023.

“An absolute delight to meet Jonathan and the beautiful Baxter. All the finalists are winners.”


A spokesperson for Island charity Isle Access said: “Huge congratulations to our trustee, Jon, and the amazing Baxter for winning this award!”

Isle of Wight County Press: Jonathon and Baxter front and centre of the winners at the Soldiering On Awards 2023 Jonathon and Baxter front and centre of the winners at the Soldiering On Awards 2023 (Image: Soldiering On Awards)