Regional Volunteer Awards

Greetings one and all.

Recently I was invited to give one of the keynote speeches at the regional volunteer awards for our region of Guide Dogs.

These awards are intended to celebrate and honour all of the hard work of Guide Dogs army of volunteers, without whom the life changing work of the organisation just couldn’t take place.  A fact echoed by Guide Dogs chairman himself at the event.

The event took place in Edinburgh, and included volunteers from the Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Northern Ireland mobility teams.  I felt that there was something quite symbolic about Commando and I giving a talk about the difference Commando has made to my life, in the city where we undertook the majority of our training as a guide dog partnership.

To get to Edinburgh we took the train.  Although Commando and I had briefly been on a train, ironically in Edinburgh, that was only a relatively short journey.  However I wasn’t too concerned about Commando and the trains as he had shown no objection to them in Edinburgh, and as a rule he is a very good traveller.  He confirmed my expectations by settling down fairly quickly on the train once we were seated, although he couldn’t resist saying hello to the people who were sitting opposite to us on the train.  Fortunately neither of them seemed to mind a bit.

Once we were off the train.  Minding the rather large gap between us and the platform, we met up with other Guide Dogs volunteers who were on the same train, and proceeded by taxi to the event.

Needless to say, there were a number of guide dogs already in attendance, and naturally this got Commando's attention.  But after a few minutes of saying hello to one of the other guide dogs, whilst I chatted to his owner, Commando apparently decided, “played with one guide dog, played with em all” and settled down.  He maintained this settled demeanour even when we moved into the main area where the event was being held.  I’m always impressed that in a room full of dogs every one of them is so well behaved, just minding their own business on their own little section of floor.

Once the event was under way and the chairman had spoken it was my turn.  I was escorted up to the lectern, and given the microphone.  A nice change for me, as I usually have to make sure that my voice carries without the aid of any technology.  I think the talk went quite well.  I even managed to get a few chuckles, I suspect from fellow guide dog owners, when I mentioned my antipathy for the cane.

Once my talk was over the awards were made.  Every nominee was named and some details given about why they had been nominated.  Then a runner up was announced, and once they had collected their award the winners were announced.  All to rapturous applause from the audience.

There were some wonderful reasons mentioned for nominations, in every category of the event.  As a guide dog owner I was both extremely grateful and honoured by what I heard.  These people give of their time and their talents freely, some of them for decades, in order to help to ensure that Guide Dogs is able to do its work, and make incalculable differences to the life’s of those of us who need the organisations help.  Although I did so in my speech, I would just like, once again, to express my most heart-felt and sincere thanks to every Guide Dogs volunteer.  The work you all do is both amazing and vital.  As without you there would be no guide dogs, and life with sight loss would be far darker for many many people.

Once the awards had been given, we all spent time mingling, and I was so pleased to meet a few people who are regular readers of this little blog of mine!  Fortunately they all said how much they enjoyed the blog, which is of course always nice to hear.  Naturally they were all keen to say hello and give a little stroke to the dog of the blog himself.  One thing you can always say about Commando, is he’s happy to do his part for the fans, soaking up stroke after stroke without complaint.

Then it was time to make the journey home.  Once again Commando just settled into a little space and relaxed whilst the train took the strain.


Ted, 10:08pm Wed 12 Aug 2015:

As a puppy walker I know I get much more out of it than I put in. Love the blog.

Ted, 8:42pm Sat 6 Jun 2015:

worth every penny. Well done keep up the good work both of you.

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Craig And Commando

Craig is in his early thirties and he is completely blind. His blog details the day-to-day adventures he experiences with his first guide dog, Commando.

Read Craig and Commando's most recent adventures.