Kimberley guide dog trainer urges others to help 'life-changing' charity

A rector from Kimberley who raises guide dog puppies is inviting others in the area to help drum up support for a ‘life-changing’ charity.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 2:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 2:39 pm
Barbara Holbrook, rector of the Parish of Kimberley and Nuthall, volunteers as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs.

Back in 2004, Barbara Holbrook, rector of the parish of Kimberley and Nuthall, decided to volunteer as a puppy raiser for sight loss charity Guide Dogs.

Puppy raisers provide loving, temporary homes for guide dog pups for around a year and help them get used to the outside world and learn basic commands.

Barbara, who’s currently looking after her 16th puppy, said: “When I got ordained, I thought about how I could become part of the local community and it was either by getting to know dogs or children.

“I’d heard of Guide Dogs and thought I’d give puppy raising a go as I didn’t know what it would be like to have a dog.”

After signing up as a puppy raiser and learning more about the charity’s life-changing work, Barbara decided to help found the Ilkeston Guide Dogs supporter group.

The group is part of a network of Guide Dogs supporter groups in place across the country, who help raise awareness and funds for the charity.

Barbara said: “The group members are friends and we have a lot of fun together, which is very important. Guide Dogs is a great cause to raise money for because it’s life-changing.”

The group run stands at local events, such as Kimberley Christmas tree light switch on, to help raise funds and need more volunteers to come forward.

Barbara added: “We meet once a month at Rumbletums community café in Kimberley, to discuss ideas.

“It would be great if people could spare some time to offer support at events and stalls and be part of the group, even if they can’t attend every meeting.

“Every pound we raise is a pound that Guide Dogs wouldn’t have if we didn’t raise it.”

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Nichola Bonsall, community fundraising relationship manager for Guide Dogs, added: “We’re in desperate need of new volunteers to join our Ilkeston Guide Dogs supporter group.

“Our volunteer supporter groups run a range of activities, from local events to collections, helping us raise the £75.7 million it costs to run our vital services each year.

“It costs around £54,800 to support a guide dog from birth to retirement and Guide Dogs relies almost entirely on public donations, so the support we get from our local groups is vital.

“If you’re from Ilkeston or the surrounding area and think you could spare some time to support us then we’d urge you to get in touch.”

Volunteers must be age 16 or over and Guide Dogs provides all the training required for each role.

The UK’s first guide dog partnerships qualified in 1931.

Since then, the charity has partnered over 36,000 people with a guide dog and transformed the lives of thousands more through other services.

To find out more about joining the Ilkeston Guide Dogs supporter group, contact volunteering coordinator Melanie Brown via [email protected] or call 0800 781 1444.