30 October 2017
West Nottinghamshire College has welcomed some very special, hardworking and diligent guests to the Derby Road campus in Mansfield.
Students and staff enjoyed meeting guide dogs and their owners in return for a small voluntary donation, as part the college’s efforts to sponsor a further two training puppies.
The event, on Thursday 19 October, staged by the student experience team in conjunction with the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity, gave people a chance to get up close and personal with these working animals and hear first-hand accounts from their visually-impaired owners about what a huge difference they have made to their lives.
Last year the college sponsored a guide dog puppy called Nathan – and it’s aiming to raise over £3,000 which is needed to sponsor two more this academic year.
Nichola Bonsall, community fundraising development officer for Guide Dogs’ Nottingham mobility team, joined students and staff who were delighted to meet the four-legged visitors and learn more about the animals’ working lives and the cost of funding the life and work of the dogs.
Nichola said: “Students asked some really important questions like how old the dogs are when they are trained, and when they retire. They’ve also learnt about the cost of a working dog. Guide Dogs don’t want cost to be a problem to a guide dog owner, so we pay for food, vets’ bills and training. The cost for a working life of a dog currently stands at £55,000 over its lifetime or first ten years of its working life.
“The college gets to name the puppy once they’ve raised the money, we then bring the puppy in when it’s 17 weeks and had all its vaccinations. We provide updates for the first year of its life and you get to find out how the puppy is getting along and issue little photographs, a birth certificate and a six-week photo.”
Students and staff also got the opportunity to venture into the special ‘sensory unit’ truck on-campus, designed to give visitors an idea of what it can be like to be visually impaired.
Visitors to the truck were blind-folded as they walked around the unit which has different textures on the floor, together with different noises surrounding them.
Sixteen-year-old hospitality and catering student Megan Wardle said: “A lot of my family have sponsored guide dogs in the past. Altogether we’ve sponsored nine dogs and we think it’s very important because guide dogs do a lot of help for people who have sight problems and they give emotional help too.
“It’s important to get involved in this fundraising because it shows that the college cares about different people in the community.”
Alfreton resident Paula Hunt came along to the event with her trusted three-and-a-half-year-old guide dog Geanie.
Paula, who has a sight-deteriorating condition called bilateral multi-focal choroiditis, said: “Before Geanie came along I was housebound and couldn’t get out at all. Since Geanie has come along, we go anywhere, we do anything we want to do and she’s totally transformed my life.
“I’m fully-independent and I’ve got my life back and I’ve got a wonderful girl to go with it!”
Throughout the day, more than £140 was raised to kick-start the funding for two more guide dogs.
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