Wirral guide dog owner leads life-changing campaign

A GUIDE dog owner from Wirral is leading a campaign to promote the impact that guide dogs have on the lives of visually impaired people.

Bill Lockwood, 81, is one of the country's oldest guide dog owners and was chosen by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to help raise awareness of how guide dogs can provide freedom, independence, confidence and companionship to people with sight loss.

Bill said: "A guide dog can offer a unique, safe and effective way of getting about independently. You don't need to have lost all your sight and most people who own a guide dog still have some vision.

"Many aren't formally registered as blind or partially-sighted, either."

There's no upper age limit - anyone aged over sixteen can apply for a guide dog, and many people over 70 have become successful guide dog owners.

Despite the training costs, it costs just 50p to have a guide dog, with all essential equipment and training provided by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, including vet bills and dog food if people wish.

Bill said: "Before my first guide dog Morris, the biggest challenge was how I would cope walking down a crowded street.

"However, through guide dog ownership, I have been able to develop my confidence and independence.

"I am less mobile now, but thanks to current guide dog Stella - who I've had for a year - everyday there's an incentive to go for a walk and get exercise. We're great companions.

"My independence wouldn't have been possible without my trusty four-legged companion, and the staff and volunteers who made our training possible.

"I encourage anyone with sight loss to contact Guide Dogs, and explore the best way of meeting your specific mobility needs.

"There's nothing to lose and potentially much to gain by considering all the options - so get in touch!"

For further information about how guide dogs can transform lives, phone 0845 372 7499 email guidedogs@guidedogs.org.uk or log on to www.guidedogs.org.uk/enquiries