Burgh store nominates guide dogs for cash boost

Val Liffen, store manager Emma Ogden and John Wade
Val Liffen, store manager Emma Ogden and John Wade

Lincolnshire Co-op shoppers have helped raise £1,338 to be spent on training guide dogs - life changing companions for the visually impaired.

A branch of the charity Guide Dogs for the Blind was nominated as a Community Champion for the Lincolnshire Co-op food store in Burgh le Marsh, while money was also raised at Messingham, Scotter and Waltham food stores for the national charity.

The scheme sees every dividend card holder linked to a good cause close to where they live. Each time they shop, a donation goes to that group.

John Wade is trading secretary for the Burgh le Marsh group, and says that the money will make a big difference.

He added: “We really are very grateful for all of the support we’ve received from Lincolnshire Co-op. It can change a teenager’s life to be able to go out with their friends, and when people have a guide dog, they get a lot more help and understanding from the general public, too.”

Volunteer and dog recipient Val Liffer said she couldn’t imagine the freedom having a guide dog gave her. “I didn’t realise how restricted I was until I got my first dog,” she said. “They’re so adaptable, they can do anything that you want them to and they make you so brave!”

Since being given her first guide dog over a decade ago, Val has attended college and gone on to the University of Nottingham, where she gained a masters degree in counselling.

Val’s dog, Sweep, helps her to cross roads, climb stairs and get on and off buses; she says that he’s much more than a helper to her: “He’s a constant companion, he’s always there. I can’t even go to the loo without him trying to follow me.”

The dogs are trained by families as puppies to familiarise them with noisy situations, meeting people and other everyday occurrences. After preliminary training on obstacle awareness and walking on a harness, they are then assigned to a specialist team for advanced training.

The whole process costs around £50,000 and John says that the money raised won’t just go towards training: “We also have a buddy dogs scheme which introduces visually impaired children to spending time with dogs, and a range of other mobility training for partially sighted people who don’t have a guide dog.”