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Guide Dog Sheba’s Visit Teaches Ashville Prep School Pupils About Charity’s Work

Published by Ashville College on Monday 6th of March 2023

Pupils from Harrogate’s Ashville Prep School have been learning about the crucial work of a charity supporting people with visual impairments – thanks to the visit of Sheba, the guide dog.

The nine-year-old black Labrador and her partially-sighted owner, retired GP and dermatologist Kate Hammond, were invited by the Prep School Charity Club, which is in the middle of raising £2,500 to name a guide dog.

They were joined by two representatives from Guide Dogs UK - fundraising relationship manager for the Harrogate area, Nicola Ridgway, and merchandising officer, Gill Darbyshire, who spoke about the charity’s work and what goes into training a guide dog.

The Prep School Charity Club is well on its way to reaching its target. It has already raised £1,300 by staging a variety of fundraising initiatives with more in the pipeline, including a ‘PJ and movie night’, prize draw and a ‘dine in the dark’ event.

The pupils heard that it takes a minimum of two years to train a guide dog, starting with it being placed into the home of a puppy raiser, who teaches the young dog skills such as lead work, stopping at curbs, avoiding obstacles, and not reacting to noises and distractions.

At the age of 12 months, the puppy then goes to a guide training centre for a year of intensive training, before being placed with a visually impaired person to live with them until their retirement aged ten.

Sheba has been with Kate for the last six years, and when she retires later this year, she will stay with Kate and her husband and become a family pet.

The children also learned the total cost of a guide dog, from training to retirement, is between £55,000 and £60,000, and there is currently a two-year wait for a service user to be paired with their guide dog.

Because of their temperaments, the most popular breeds for guide dogs are Labradors and Golden Retrievers. However, they also use German Shepherd Dogs and for those with allergies, Poodle/Labrador crosses, as they tend to shed less fur.

Asa Firth, Head of Ashville Prep School, said:

“It was superb to welcome Sheba, Kate, Nicola, and Gill to our morning assembly and to learn about the work of Guide Dogs UK.

“This year the Charity Club has chosen to support the organisation, and as such is going about raising £2,500 to be able to name a guide dog.

“It was fascinating hearing from Kate about her journey with Sheba, and from Nicola and Gill about the process involved to train these wonderful dogs who act as the eyes of visually-impaired individuals.

“The visit has also given the Charity Club extra impetus to ensure they meet – and hopefully beat – their fundraising target.” 

A JustGiving fundraising page has also been seen, and those wishing to donate can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/ashville-college-1677070186193

Guide Dog Sheba’s Visit Teaches Ashville Prep School Pupils About Charity’s Work  - Photo 1
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