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Guide Dogs Association seeks more volunteers

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is appealing for more volunteers to board its trainee guide dogs in Beverley after revealing the town is the centre for training all the guide dogs active not just in the East Riding, but York, Selby and the whole of Lincolnshire as well.

Roddy and Fran Horton, volunteer boarders, with Timber wearing his harness, laying between them in their garden

Homes are needed for anything from 10 weeks to 26 weeks, overnight, and at weekends. The guide dogs are dropped off each morning at the office in Beverley before 9.15 am, and then picked up at the end of the day before 5.15pm. 

Roddy and Fran Horton, of Beverley, have been boarders for the local mobility team for four years, and during that time have looked after 16 different dogs.

Some have been occasional overnight stays, while others have stayed for a four-month period. Fran told us: “It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. “Seeing young dogs develop into fully fledged guide dogs right before our eyes is amazing. Knowing that we’re making a positive difference to these dogs… It’s actually very touching.”

It was easy to see how much it means to both Roddy and Fran as they interacted with Timber, one of the dogs they had previously looked after. Though he’s been a qualified guide dog for over six months now, Timber still recognised the couple who looked after him while he was training, and enjoyed being fussed by them both.

When asked what motivated him to become involved with boarding in the first place, Roddy smiled. “I’ve always loved dogs, but our lifestyle doesn’t allow for pets. We make the most of being retired by going on holiday throughout the year, so it just wouldn’t be practical to have our own dog. Being a boarder means we have a part time pet.

“We allocate times when we’re available, and working with the Hull team, we plan the best way to get involved. The team have been great as well, which really helps. The staff are always sociable, and make us feel welcome whenever we visit the office.”

As we chatted with Roddy and Fran, their current charge, Preston, was sprawled across the floor, paws in the air, clearly enjoying the attention he was getting from the pair. “Boarding dogs is great fun, but it also involves a certain amount of discipline,” said Roddy. “If it wasn’t for the dogs, I doubt I’d be up early on a Monday morning to go for a walk in the fog!”

Full training, support, food and equipment is provided. The role is subject to suitable references and a home visit, and applicants must be located in the Beverley area.

Guide Dogs know that every hour, another person in the UK goes blind. When someone loses their sight, we’re here to make sure they don’t lose their freedom as well.

If you would like more details about the role, please call the office on 0345 1430207, or email us at hull@guidedogs.org.uk