A two-year-old Siamese cat, Siam, is rushed in by mum and daughter, Vicky and Heather, suffering from a broken leg, shattered pelvis and a suspected spinal injury after being hit by a van.

Animals occupy a very special place in the life of Heather, who has complex degenerative disabilities as well as dementia, and for whom Siam is a loving comfort. “They sort of know she’s different,” says Vicky, “they adapt to her, they’re very gentle with her – for me, to see that is such a joyous thing.”

Noel first met the family eight years ago when he performed pioneering surgery to provide their Basset hound, Bumblebee, with a bionic leg.

Although Siam responds well to post-operative hydrotherapy, the damage to his sciatic nerve could be permanent and may prevent his injured leg from regaining function. Noel has the delicate task of breaking the news to his devoted family.