A fundraising mission by a former winner of the Miss Mansfield and Sherwood Forest competition is set to improve the lives of blind people.
After she was crowned in 2017, Jessica Pinnick set herself a goal to raise £5,000 during the year of her reign for the Guide Dogs charity, which has always been close to her heart.
But she has ended up raising an amazing total of £8,276 through a variety of events, and this has entitled her to name and sponsor two guide dog puppies as part of a money-generating scheme run by the charity.
Jessica, 24, said: “The Guide Dogs charity does such incredible work, and I want to thank members of the local community and businesses for supporting me. I couldn’t have done it without you.
“I have called the puppies Jessie (after me!) and Ohio, whose name was inspired by the amazing trip I went on to our sister city, Mansfield in Ohio, USA, which was my prize for winning Miss Mansfield.
“The trip was a truly life-changing experience. Therefore, I thought it would be a great tribute to name my life-changing dog Ohio.”
Ohio, who is five months old, is currently undergoing her training before being placed with a person who is blind or partially sighted.
“I finally got to meet her last week, and it was a day I will remember forever,” said Jessica, who hails from Bilsthorpe but now lives in Mansfield.
“I feel incredibly proud to be part of her amazing journey to giving someone with sight loss their independence back.
“Miss Mansfield and Sherwood Forest is a fantastic ambassador programme that gives young women an amazing platform to raise awareness of and funds for a charity they are passionate about.”
Jessica, a former pupil of The Dukeries Academy in Ollerton, has been a volunteer for Guide Dogs for the past five years.
She was first inspired to name and sponsor a puppy after making friends with 24-year-old blind footballer from Mansfield, Nathan Edge, who has been a keen fundraiser for the charity alongside his faithful guide dog, Hudson.
Jessica added: “I saw, first hand, just how much a guide dog had changed Nathan’s life and had truly given him his independence back after he had lost his sight at the age of 19.
“Throughout my year as Miss Mansfield, I raised money by completing a variety of activities, such as raffles, bag-packing and a sponsored obstacle race, and my final event, called ‘A Night Of Inspiration’, which was a black-tie celebration of local talent and inspirational people.”
It costs more than £5,000 to breed and puppy-walk each guide dog, and the lifetime cost is more than £55,000.
For donations of between £2,500 and £10,000, supporters can name a puppy and receive updates on his or her progress. This money then helps the charity to transform the lives of blind or partially sighted people.