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Guide dog pup has ‘pawesome’ time at college

Students Harley Finch, Mitchell Bastholm and Lesley Young with puppy walker Ethne Brown and guide dog puppy Freddie.

Puppy love was in the air at Sunderland College after four-month-old pooch Freddie paid a visit to students during Guide Dogs Week.

Golden Retriever Freddie, a guide dog in training, visited the college’s Bede Campus with puppy walker Ethne Brown to celebrate and raise awareness of the Guide Dogs charity.

Ethne, who has helped to raise 17 guide dogs, gave a presentation about the charity and its work with blind and partially sighted people to the college’s Together Activity Group (TAG), which supports students with disabilities and learning difficulties.

She said: “Freddie and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Sunderland College and I think that the students understood how a guide dog can change a person’s life for the better, by giving them their independence and boosting their confidence in their everyday life.”

The visit by Ethne and Freddie on Thursday was one of a series of events which took place at the college during Guide Dog Week, from 4-12 October.

Former student Craig Blackbird, with his guide dog Commando, delivered talks about his experiences as a guide dog owner to students at the college’s Hylton and Bede campuses. Craig successfully completed a Business HND at the college in June and is now studying at Sunderland University.

Students from TAG are selling Guide Dogs badges at the college to raise funds for the charity and they will also be producing posters to show other students how to behave around guide dogs.

Jude Letham, from the college’s equality and diversity committee, said: “Guide dog talks are always popular – as well as enjoying the dogs, our students learn about visual impairment and that helps to make our college environment more inclusive.”

The Guide Dogs charity has transformed the lives of more than 30,000 people who are blind or partially sighted. The guide dog service receives no government funding and depends entirely upon public support.

It costs £5 per day to support each working guide dog partnership, and the lifetime cost of a guide dog is around £50,000. For more information about the charity, click here.

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