Long-serving fundraiser reflects on Guide Dogs after 25 years

Author: Regional Marketing and Communications Team
  • Inspiring People
Volunteer Pat Canning is sat in the boot of a car next to a Golden Retriever.

Puppy Raiser and Fundraising Coordinator are just two of the hats that Pat Canning has worn over her 25 years volunteering for Guide Dogs. Countless fundraisers later, Pat is stepping back from her fundraising role, and spoke to us about her experience over the years.

Pat, based in the New Forest, began her journey volunteering for Guide Dogs in the mid-90s after her family dog passed away. It wasn’t long before her children started asking about the potential of another pet dog. Guide Dogs were recruiting for Puppy Raisers in Southampton, and so Pat got her first puppy, Alice, in 1997. 

Whilst a holiday to Florida was required for Pat and her family to get over the emotion of Alice leaving to become a guide dog, Pat went on to raise twenty puppies and found that volunteering to help raise a working guide dog to be immeasurably rewarding:

“Hearing back from a visually impaired person who gets one of your puppies and how you’ve changed their lives, that’s lovely.”

A few years into puppy raising, in the early 2000s, Pat signed up to do the Mount Kenya Charity Challenge. She raised an incredible £5,000 and put the funds through the local Guide Dogs branch, which is where she met the Fundraising Coordinator at the time, Freida. Before she knew it, Pat was helping with the local fundraising group through card sales and various other activities. 

Eventually Pat took on the role of Fundraising Coordinator, which she did for nearly 20 years. 

“As a Co-ordinator you can do as much or as little as you want. I’ve been plodding along doing fetes, the merchandising and other bits here and there - it’s incredibly rewarding and a great way to meet people.” 

Pat has now passed the baton to another volunteer to carry out the role of coordinator, whilst she continues to volunteer with the merchandising and puppy raising.

When asked what she would say to someone looking to volunteer for Guide Dogs, Pat said:

“Volunteering brings a huge feel-good factor, and that the importance of raising awareness shouldn’t be underestimated. When coming across Guide Dogs looking for Puppy Raisers back in the mid-90s, I recalled a visit from Guide Dogs to my school when I was in Year 4 that stayed with me forever.”

It just goes to show that an event, visit or just a chance meeting can make a huge difference. To find out more about volunteering roles near you, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/volunteer

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