My journey into London (or as I call it, the termites nest!)

Gavin and his guide dog outside 10 Downing StreetI am now into my second week of training with my new guide dog Ritchie following the retirement of my first guide dog Peter. Guide Dogs have been absolutely fantastic to me and the new partnership is building well thanks to my great guide dog trainer Adrian.

I am determined to help Guide Dogs with their campaigns both to promote the charity itself and for other visually impaired people for whom the campaigns provide support.

One particular gripe of mine is pavement and street clutter that causes me obstructions and difficulty. So when Guide Dogs asked me to go with them to Downing Street to present a petition signed by over 5000 people as a part of their Streets Ahead Campaign I quickly agreed, forgetting that busy places like London are the places I fear most and find most difficult to navigate because I just can't see all the people. The handing over of the petition at Downing Street was last Wednesday and I duly went on my journey into the termites nest (London).

Although the journey to London was relatively simple by bus and train to Paddington, I had to make do with my white cane because Richie, my new guide dog was not yet ready to make such a journey. Representatives from Guide Dogs met me from the train at Paddington and we then made our way to Downing Street by taxi.

It was here that we met Martin Horwood, MP for Cheltenham, who has been working closely with Guide Dogs on the campaign to put an end to pavement parking. We and all of our possessions were put through a scanner to make sure that we weren't carrying anything threatening and then it was straight along to Number 10 to knock on the big door, which was an exciting moment for all of us. The petition was quickly handed out but unfortunately we did not get to meet the Prime Minister David Cameron, who was off on a trip to Brussels dealing with EU business.

After that we all had our photographs taken by the front door of Number 10 and then outside Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Unfortunately, by the time I had made a quick detour to Islington to meet a friend it was 5 o'clock and at the very peak of rush hour and the termites nest was absolutely humming! Miraculously I was not stampeded by the masses and managed to stay on my feet and make my way back to Paddington to catch the train back to Oxford. But I must say that much credit goes to the amazing young stockbroker who helped me at Paddington and King's Cross stations. I have to admit feeling an amazing sense of empowerment as thousands of people rushed towards me in one of the underground corridors but the crowds of people, pushchairs, children and scooters parted like the seas for Moses as they saw my white cane being swept from side to side.

Unfortunately I was so tired by the time the train got to Oxford that I was fast asleep and went right past and on to Charlbury but never mind, it was a very satisfying and pleasing thing to have done and I feel that I met a great challenge.


Janette, 5:09pm Mon 11 Aug 2014:

Well done Gavin That took courage thankfully there are people like you prepared to stand up and speak out Janette

MARGARET, 10:21am Sat 9 Aug 2014:

Gavin I salute you for tackling London - something I find stressful, even as a sighted person! There are none so brave as those who are determined not to let anxiety beat them. Good luck with your partnership with Ritchie. I hope you will have many exciting ventures together.

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