College staff inspired by blind student to sponsor their own guide dog

Puppy Nathan with his ex-student namesake, Nathan Edge and his own guide dog, Nichola Bonsall, of the Guide Dogs charity, and the visual impairment team at West Notts College
Puppy Nathan with his ex-student namesake, Nathan Edge and his own guide dog, Nichola Bonsall, of the Guide Dogs charity, and the visual impairment team at West Notts College

The story of a student who lost his sight inspired staff at West Nottinghamshire College in Mansfield to raise enough money to sponsor their own guide dog.

Now, after two years of hard work and fundraising, they have reached their goal and have met the seven months’ old black Labrador puppy for the first time.

Puppy Nathan with his ex-student namesake, Nathan Edge and his own guide dog, Hudson.

Puppy Nathan with his ex-student namesake, Nathan Edge and his own guide dog, Hudson.

The dog has been named Nathan, after the former student, Nathan Edge, who spent four years at West Notts between 2010 and 2014.

He received support from the college’s visual impairment team during his course. But in his final year, his sight declined rapidly and he went blind.

Fortunately, he was introduced to guide dog Hudson, who is now his best friend and who enables him to live a happy and independent life. And the team at the college were so touched by Nathan’s plight that they became involved with the Guide Dogs charity so they could help others benefit from a dog like Hudson.

The aim was to raise £1,500 to be able to name and meet a guide dog, and they have achieved it thanks to a string of events at the Derby Road campus, such as a dress-down day, Christmas and Easter markets and a sponsored silence by childcare student Claire O’Shea.

Visual impairment co-ordinator Rachel Fletcher said: “It was so exciting and wonderful to meet Nathan. He is a beautiful, intelligent and lovely-natured puppy, who will go on to have an incredibly positive impact on somebody’s life.

“I am delighted and proud that the funds have been raised to contribute to this worthy and life-changing organisation. I hope that our partnership with Guide Dogs will continue and result in many more successful outcomes.”

Upon meeting his namesake, Nathan Edge said: “This is amazing. It’s great to know the students and staff have put in all this hard work to raise money to sponsor a puppy. Nathan seems very lively and playful, and reminds me a bit of Hudson when he was younger.

“Nathan will go on to change someone’s life, just as my dog has changed mine, and I’m truly honoured that they have chosen to name him after me.”

Nichola Bonsall, of the Guide Dogs charity, said: “The lifetime cost of a working guide dog is £55,000, so without the kind of fundraising the college has done, we wouldn’t be able to provide the service.

“Currently, Nathan is with his puppy walkers. He will then move to a training centre before being matched with an applicant, carefully selected to match their lifestyle.”