Unexpected Donations

Hello once again, one and all.

As always, a warm welcome back to the blog.

I have mentioned before, how much I enjoy my role as a Guide Dogs Speaker.  It gives me the chance to give something back to the organisation, as well as inform and educate people about many different facets of life, both with sight loss, and far more importantly with a guide dog.  It also allows me to tell people how they can help the organisation, should they so wish.

But more than that.  Each and every talk serves to remind me just how fortunate I am to have Commando in my life, and how fortunate every guide dog owner is to have an organisation like Guide Dogs looking after us and our dogs, and asking nothing from us in return.

Recently I gave a talk to a local Cub Scout group, and was asked if there were other organisations like Guide Dogs in other countries.  Now, we are not the only country to have guide dogs to help us, but I believe we may be the only country to have so much support at no charge…  I know that in some countries, the help you get can depend on just how much you are able to pay.  But fortunately that is not the case here.  I vividly remember, on my first Guide Dogs information visit, which was my first face to face contact with anyone from the organisation, at which I was told that someone’s financial situation was no barrier to guide dog ownership.  I believe the exact words were along the lines of “whether you’re a prince or a porper, you’ll get the same level of support from Guide Dogs”.

This comment always stayed with me, and is one of the reasons I am so keen to help Guide Dogs whenever I can, because regardless of the costs of a guide dog, the freedom they give us is beyond measure and beyond price.

In the past, just about all of my speaking engagements have been arranged by me.  However in recent months I have actually been contacted by the Newcastle team and asked to undertake speaking engagements which local organisations have requested.  Although I have serious time commitments to university at the moment, I have still been able to carry out the majority of these requests, fitting them in as best as I can around my course commitments.

The first was in December of last year, for a local Brownie group, and the most recent was a Cub Scout group.  Naturally both of these talks were very enjoyable, with the young audience paying close attention, naturally mesmerised by Commando, rather than myself.  Both groups also had some excellent questions, and I hope left their respective talks far more knowledgeable about Guide Dogs.

Much to my delight, I left those talks, not only with the feeling that I had managed to carry out another successful talk, you just never know beforehand how these things are going to go.  But also, even more importantly, with donations for Guide Dogs.  The Brownie group informed me that they would be holding a bring and buy event, with proceeds going to Guide Dogs, and the Cubs were kind enough to give me a check at the end of the talk.  There is never any requirement on anyone to provide a donation in return for a speaker from Guide Dogs paying a visit, but of course any donation is very gratefully received.

I won’t divulge specific amounts, but between the Cubs donation and the Brownies bring and buy event a nice little total has been raised for Guide Dogs. 

But always keen to do my own part in providing donations, I decided this year that I would get involved in Januarys ‘give it up for Guide Dogs’ fund raising efforts.  After some consideration I decided that I would give up coffee for a month and donate the proceedings to Guide Dogs.  As someone who didn’t really drink all that much coffee pre my return to academic study I was quite surprised when I stopped to think about just how much of the stuff I drink each week now.  So in the end I believe I managed to raise around £35 through my lack of coffee.  Naturally once February rolled around one of the first things I did was have myself a nice hot coffee, and let me tell you my friends, it tasted good…  However, my efforts did not go unnoticed by someone I work with at University, who was kind enough to give me a significant additional donation for Guide Dogs as a result of my efforts.

When we consider that every guide dog partnership costs around £50,000 for Guide Dogs combined with the fact that the Guide Dogs service receives no government funding, I realise that the amounts I raise are a drop in a very big ocean.  But, we have many people out there who fundraise for us, many people who drop that little bit of change into a collection box, and many people who choose to leave a lasting legacy behind by remembering Guide Dogs in their wills.  Without every one of these magnificent people, without every single donation, large or small there would be no guide dogs like Commando changing lives like mine.  So to all of you, I say once again, thank 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.

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