Guide Dog of the Year Awards 2012

I’m looking forward to attending, and indeed proudly presenting an award, at tonight’s Specsavers Guide Dog of the Year Awards.

In 2011, three guide dogs and their owners gathered with guests at Regent’s College Conference Centre in London to receive one of three awards – Beyond the Call of Duty, Life Changing and Outstanding Work. The overall winner was selected from the trio and named Guide Dog of the Year.

This year, the ceremony is bigger and better with six new categories alongside Guide Dog of the Year, enabling us to recognise the incredible work of people across the Guide Dogs family; still celebrating inspirational guide dogs, but we’re also celebrating guide dog owners, fundraisers, volunteers and young people, among others. I wish all the nominees the best of luck.

Guide Dogs have an enviable reputation for breeding and training guide dogs but are more determined than ever to get even more blind and partially sighted people out and about on their own terms. It’s worth repeating that there are 180,000 blind and partially sighted people who rarely leave home alone, and Guide Dogs want to help them combat isolation.

Breeding and training guide dogs will always be at the heart of what Guide Dogs do. It’s their hero service and they’re committed to increasing the number of guide dog owners over the next few years, as well as reaching out to more blind and partially sighted people.

Guide Dogs firmly believe that diversification is a vital part of any organisation’s future success – having already been around for over 80 years, they want to make sure they’re around for at least another 80, and as they, so too will the awards ceremony, reflecting their growing purpose.

After all, Guide Dogs won’t rest until blind and partially sighted people can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

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