He lost his four grandchildren in one of the most horrific house fires in recent memory – but grieving Keith Smith says his loving cat Holly is always there to comfort him.
Keith’s daughter Michelle was celebrating her 36th birthday at her home in Lytham Road, Freckleton, in January 2012, when a deliberate fire, started inside the property, claimed the lives of her four-year-old twin daughters Holly and Ella, two-year-old son Jordan and her brave 19-year-old son Reece, who went back in and tried to save his siblings.
Dyson Allen, 19, was last year found guilty of their manslaughter and told by a court he must serve a minimum of nine years and three months behind bars.
Now Keith, whose life has been left in tatters by the tragedy, says he is comforted every day by his beloved pet.
And six-year-old tortoiseshell Holly has been honoured by the National Cat Awards for the love and comfort she offers him every day.
Keith, who lives in Freckleton, said: “I haven’t got a lot left in my life any more and Holly has always been there when I get home and when I wake up in the morning. I love her to bits.
“When I found out that Holly had won the special recognition award it brought tears to my eyes.
“Holly is the love of my life and I am very honoured to be mentioned, never mind winning such a special award.”
Keith received his award from Cats Protection’s chief executive Peter Hepburn at the awards ceremony at London’s Savoy Hotel.
Mr Hepburn said: “As cat lovers, we are all aware of the special bond we can share with our pets and the many wonderful things that they bring into our lives.
“They are there with us in times of happiness but equally they can comfort us in times of sorrow. Keith and Holly’s story stood out to us as a heart-breaking example of such a bond and we felt that we could not pass the day without giving special recognition to this story of companionship under tragic circumstances.”