Guide dog charity plea for volunteers

Guide dogs have an average working life of seven years and throughout their lifetime cost around £55,000.

Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:59 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:08 am

The charity Guide Dogs does not receive any government funding and relies on donations to support people with sight loss and ensure that the 8,000 dogs are happy, well-trained and healthy.

Guide Dogs Chesterfield and Derbyshire frequently organises activities and events to raise money and awareness, but hopes to recruit some new volunteers.

Some of the fundraisers for this branch are guide dog owners, and understand first-hand the freedom and independence that a guide dog can give a person with sight loss.

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Toni Harrington, from Shirebrook, is a fundraiser for Chesterfield and a guide dog owner.

Toni, 53, has Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), which she has lived withfrom a young age, being officially diagnosed at aged 12.

At first, she was unsure about whether she wanted a guide dog, but after a split from her partner, she decided she wanted to be self-sufficient and not rely on others.

Toni applied for a guide dog, and was eventually partnered up with guide dog Jazz, who is now three years old. She has had Jazz – a Labrador – for a year, and thinks it’s the best thing she ever did.

The mum-of-two said: “Jazz does as I ask, and we make a great team, Jazz supports me with day-to-day activities. Jazz has allowed me to be independent.”

Irene Cooper from Hasland, is also a fundraiser and a guide dog owner. She is very experienced with guide dogs and started fundraising in 1980, having her own first guide dog in 1977.

Since then, she has owned several guide dogs, they have helped her gain confidence and independence throughout her life. She kept one of her guide dogs, Victoria as a pet once she had retired, and currently has a German Sheperd guide dog called Demi.

The Chesterfield branch recommends that a dog under six months should work for half an hour, over six months for one hour, and a full working dog for two hours a day.

If you could help Guide Dogs Chesterfield and Derbyshire, or to find out more visit