Lindsey is an active member of her local Guide Dogs fundraising group in Shrewsbury. Not only does she fundraise for them, manning stands and collection boxes at weekends, but she also campaigns and publicly speaks on behalf of Guide Dogs.
A few years ago, Lindsey wouldn’t have thought this was possible.
At just 15-months old Lindsey was diagnosed with Still’s Disease, also knows as rheumatoid arthritis in children. Her childhood was dominated by medical appointments, and it became apparent the arthritis was attacking her eyes as well as her joints.
Lindsey attended mainstream school, then went to the Royal National College for the Blind, before going on to train as a physiotherapist at the North London School of Physiotherapy.
It was only when Lindsey was married and had a baby did she first make contact with Guide Dogs. She said: ‘but when I got the call I turned it down, I felt that because I had some residual vision it would be unfair to take a dog over others with no vision’.
Lindsey’s vision gradually deteriorated; she stopped using public transport on her own and was beginning to rely more on her husband and her then-adult daughter. Her confidence and mental health began to decline, as did her independence.
Lindsey revisited the idea of having a guide dog and in 2015 she was partnered with Leyland, a black Labrador, and the partnership couldn’t have come soon enough.
Lindsey said: ‘Leyland has been a life changer for me. With him I’m now able to go out on my own without having to rely on family or friends for support. I’d be lost without him now – he is my social lifeline. My only regret is not getting him sooner!’
Now retired, Lindsey does a lot of volunteering for Guide Dogs thanks to the support that Leyland gives her. She said: ‘I’ve taken on challenges that I wouldn’t have thought possible a few years ago.
‘The fundraising group and having Leyland has helped me to overcome my lacking confidence. I’m now a confident and experienced speaker for Guide Dogs, giving talks in person and on Zoom in places as far as Abu Dhabi!’
Lindsey is also passionate about educating people on how to make the world a more accessible place for service dog users and is working with Guide Dogs to campaign for change.
Lindsey said she wanted to give something back to Guide Dogs [by volunteering] ‘because they’ve given me my life back’.
Guide dog owner Samantha Leftwich and her mum Linda, both from Essex, turned an unfortunate situation into a positive bonding experience this October, running their own half marathon to raise money for Guide Dogs.
Laura Whittaker is hoping to complete an Ironman for a big birthday coming up, having taken up running and cycling after getting her first guide dog.