9th Dec, 2016

FEATURE: Tails still wagging at Guide Dogs 75 years after opening

Solihull Editorial 29th Jun, 2016 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

AFTER humble beginnings 75 years ago, Guide Dogs are still keeping tails wagging in Leamington.

The charity hopes its annual open day and car boot on Saturday July 9 will be bigger and better than ever this year to celebrate the milestone birthday.

Guide Dogs first opened the doors at Edmondscote Manor in Leamington during the Second World War in 1941.

But the charity was founded ten years previously by two women in the Wirral. The pair had heard about a doctor in the First World War who left blind patients in the care of his German Shepherd. They then took to training the dogs in a bid to help guide those who could not see.

Expanding the charity, Guide Dogs launched in Leamington with Captain Nikolai Liakhoff at the helm. He arrived from America where he had done pioneering work with assistance dogs.

Under his leadership the charity began to recruit volunteers to become puppy walkers in 1956. A few years later a breeding programme was introduced with a centre built on Banbury Road.

A spokesman for the charity said: “From these humble beginnings of working in small shacks in the Wirral, the principle of guide dogs has remained focused over the years.

“Our mission statement is that we will not rest until people with a visual impairment can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.”

Nowadays In Leamington, there are more than 700 volunteers who help care for the dogs, and more than 1,400 puppies are born at the centre each year.

The service relies almost entirely on donations and supplies some 800 dogs nationally each year to assist those with a visual impairment.

To help raise extra funds and celebrate the milestone, the charity is holding an open day between 11am and 4pm at Edmondscote Manor on Warwick New Road.

It will include the chance to meet some guide dogs and police dogs, watch displays and enjoy stalls and a car boot. For the children their will be entertainment and a bouncy castle.

Email coventry@guidedogs.org.uk or call 0118 983 8882 to book a stall.