The Countess, who became a Guide Dogs’ Patron in July 2021, read along with the children. She also toured the centre to see how the books, which are customised to meet each child’s specific needs, are made. Later, The Countess met staff from the Children and Young People’s Services team at Guide Dogs, who provide life-changing support for children and families affected by sight loss. As well as large-print books, we also provide vital mobility, orientation and life-skills training and technology for young people who are blind or partially sighted. Some young people have the opportunity to be paired with a buddy dog, which helps give them confidence and prepare them for a possible guide dog in the future. We also provide families with vital support when their child is diagnosed and can help them navigate and access complex systems such as special needs education and financial support.
We also provide famous guide dogs who were of course present too, and Her Royal Highness saw a demonstration of the skills of guide dogs in training, led by expert trainers at the newly-refurbished centre near Reading.
“We were absolutely delighted to meet The Countess and showcase our life-changing children’s services. While we are well known for providing guide dogs, we are also the largest provider of services for children and young people in the country, and we are really grateful for The Countess’ keen interest and passion for this area of our work.” Kerry Kernan, Head of Guide Dogs Children and Young People’s Services