Alan Fletcher, chair of Swindon Guide Dogs, accompanied by his dog, Joy, spoke to Isambard’s Year 7 about life with a guide dog. He joked with the youngsters that Joy is a BMW: Blind Man’s Walker and acts as his GPS or Guide Dog Positioning System.
He explained that it costs around £40,000 to train and keep a dog throughout its working life but owners are only asked to pay 50p. The rest is paid for by Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which supports 18 guide dog partnerships in Swindon.
In 2008, £18,000 was raised in Swindon, an increase of 28 per cent on the previous year, but more is needed for the area to become self sufficient.
Youngsters at Isambard are considering fundraising for the charity. James Willmot said he didn’t realise how much it cost to keep a dog. “Mr Fletcher’s talk was very interesting and his dog Joy is very calm and cute. I’d like to help with fundraising events for guide dogs.”
Youngsters at Ridgeway School have pledged to raise £5,000 to pay for a dog’s initial training, which will entitle them to name the dog.
Orchid Vale Primary School pupils raised £568 by completing the two mile fun run on Swindon Half Marathon day.
Paws for action
Schools are being asked to ‘paws’ for one day in June to find out more about guide dogs. Teaching resource packs are available at: www.guidedogs.org.uk/guidedogsatschool
Pictured above: Isambard Year 8s Sammie Wheatley, Billy White, Jacoub Bonner, Niami Ross meet Alan Fletcher and his guide dog Joy, and (below) puppy in training, Brunel, with his puppy walker Wendy Terry