Students launch guide dog campaign

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Students and staff at West Nottinghamshire College enjoyed meeting guide dogs and their owners as part the college’s efforts to sponsor a further two training puppies.

The event, held at the Derby Road campus, was staged by the student experience team in conjunction with the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity and gave people a chance to get up close and personal with the working animals and hear first-hand accounts about what a huge difference they can make to their owners’ lives.

Last year the college sponsored a guide dog puppy called Nathan – and aims to raise more than £3,000 which is needed to sponsor two more this academic year.

Nichola Bonsall, community fundraising development officer for Guide Dogs’ Nottingham mobility team, 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. We 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.”

Once they’ve raised the money, staff and students get to name the puppy. The charity then provides updates for the first year of its life with photographs and a birth certificate.

Alfreton resident Paula Hunt was at 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 Genie came along I was housebound and couldn’t get out at all.

“Since Genie has come along, we go anywhere, we do anything we want to do and she’s totally transformed my life.”

Sixteen-year-old hospitality and catering student Megan Wardle added: “A lot of my family have sponsored guide dogs in the past.

“It’s important to get involved in this fundraising because it shows that the college cares about different people in the community.”

Throughout the day, more than £140 was raised to kick-start the funding for two more guide dogs.