Hartlepool shoppers urged to back Guide Dogs cash drive

Gemma Mahoney and Mitchell Robb from Specsavers get ready for the fundraising weekend.

Gemma Mahoney and Mitchell Robb from Specsavers get ready for the fundraising weekend.

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Store chiefs are calling on the people of Hartlepool to take the lead and help fund guide dogs.

The Specsavers store in the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre will hold a two-day fundraising drive today and tomorrow.

Guide dogs are a charity close to our hearts as we are so closely linked to sight loss. There are nearly 4800 guide dog owners in the UK and around 8000 guide dogs but more are needed

Ian Walker, store director at Specsavers in the Middleton Grange shopping centre

The aim is to raise £1,000 for the Guide Dogs movement, which helps about 4,800 guide dog owners in the UK.

Store director Ian Walker said: “Guide dogs are a charity close to our hearts as we are so closely linked to sight loss.

“There are about 8,000 guide dogs, but more are needed.

“It takes about £5 a day to support each working guide dog partnership, or put another way, the lifetime cost of a guide dog is £50,000, so constant fundraising is necessary.” The store is planning a Guess My Name competition based around a huge Husky puppy.

Mr Walker added: “Over the two days, we are also holding a tombola with many different prizes, as well as a cake stall, our best bakers are making cakes to sell.

“There will be lots of other events including pin the tail on the puppy.

“We will have some real guide dogs in attendance also, and these are always popular with our customers.”

The Guide Dogs movement breeds more than 1,300 guide dog pups each year and created more than 820 new guide dog partnerships in 2013 alone.

The service receives no Government funding and depends entirely upon public support. A guide dog owner may have up to eight dogs in their lifetime.

Mr Walker said: “Fundraising will be both in-store and in the shopping centre.

“Last year we raised £750 and we are setting ourselves an increased target of £1000.

“Guide dogs receive no Government funding and depend entirely upon public support.

“They not only breed and train the dogs, but also undertake ophthalmic, psychosocial and technological research. They also campaign for the rights of people who are blind and partially sighted to have the same freedom of movement as we all have.”

Anyone wanting more details on the service can visit the Guide Dogs website at http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/.