Help us raise £5000 to sponsor a Guide Dog puppy

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YOUR Cumbernauld News and Kilsyth Chronicle is this week launching a new campaign to raise £5000 to name a guide dog.

It is 80 years since the first four guide dogs completed their training, and to help them celebrate we are reviving a campaign that proved popular years ago - we are asking our readers to pledge a total of £5000 to name a guide dog puppy, which will of course be named by our faithful readers.

We caught up with Abronhill man Pat Duffy to find out how having a guide dog had changed his life.

Pat, now 65, was born with a genetic condition that affected his eyesight. Although he has always had problems with his vision, it was not until 1979 that he was registered blind. However, he only got his first guide dog in 1994.

“I used to get beaten up at school. Even the teachers used to rub my face into the blackboard and ask if I could see what was written on it,” said Pat. For years he felt stigmatised about his condition and tried to conceal it.

“I ended up taking on all sorts of jobs I should never have gone anywhere near, including working in a butcher’s shop,” he said. But in 1979 Pat’s sight deteriorated and he was registered blind.

Even so, it wasn’t until 1994 that a meeting with specialist social worker David Congelton changed his life.

“David was a guide dog user and talked me into getting a guide dog too.”

Pat finally requested a guide dog and spent several weeks getting matched with the right dog and learning to work with it, It is a long and complex process, that has to be repeated several times whenever the owner needs a new guide dog, but the tradeoff is that Pat is much more independent. For instance, he went from struggling to get on a bus to travelling to conferences in England.

Pat has recently taken ownership of his third guide dog, a young retriever/labrador cross called Yoko, who is still less than two years old.

Yoko has been trained especially for Cumbernauld’s unique layout, particularly the lack of pavements, and her training is also tailored to suit the nature of Pat’s specific visual impairment.

Pat has a limited amount of vision and finds obstacles such as steps challenging so Yoko has been trained to take extra care with these.

Ownership of a guide dog has changed Pat’s life beyond recognition, and the News and Chronicle wants to help someone else experience the same transformation. So our message goes out to you: please help our campaign.

Our readers are know to be among the most generous in the county - and with your help we can reach our target.

Tell us if you’re fund-raising for our appeal, and we’ll arrange to get a photograph taken - or if you prefer to wait until you’ve collected the proceeds for a picture, just tell us then.

Here’s just some of the ways you could help to raise money:

Do a sponsored walk with a difference - a sponsored dog walk! See www.gowalkies.org.uk or call 0845 372 7315 for more information. nOrganise a get together - a social or sponsored event. This could be anything from a jumble sale to a sponsored TV marathon. Let us know how much you collect and we’ll arrange a photograph!

Help your local fundraising group - call 0845 371 7771 or email: volunteer@guidedogs.org.uk.

And here’s how you can send money in to our special campaign.

Please mark all cheques “Cumbernauld News Appeal” and either send to our offices at Cumbernauld News/Kilsyth Chronicle, 10-12 Tay Walk, Cumbernauld G67 1BU and we will forward them, or send them direct to: Fundraising, Guide Dogs Training School, Dean Way, Orchardbank Business Park, Forfar DD8 1WG.