The Guides Dogs charity organised a Dogs & Doilies tea party at the Town Hall last Thursday where visitors got to learn about Guide dogs whilst enjoying a cup of tea and fun activities.
Activities included spelling out your name in Braille, looking through different glasses which demonstrated different vision impairments and making a jam sandwich blindfolded.
The event was organised by Shirley Borrett, local fundraising co-ordinator who said, “We haven’t run anything for a while in Henley and we want to build awareness and encourage people to support the charity. A big part of our role is to raise awareness of what it is like to live with vision impairment, right down to total blindness. The Braille was my idea and my son 3D printed the pieces during lockdown. At these events we also try and do some fundraising by getting local business to donate raffle prizes and get local volunteers to come and serve tea and cake. We’re pleased that Henley Rotary Club have helped support this event.”
Sally was there with her Guide Dog Rex, a German Shepherd. Only 4% of Guide Dogs are German Shepherds. Sally has had Rex for 6 1/2 years. She has no central vision, just peripheral vision. She said, “I was diagnosed in 2006 when I went to the opticians for new glasses and they said you mustn’t drive from now. It was a real shock. This is my third guide dog. He is fantastic, he helps me finds kerbs, he takes me to pedestrian crossings and he’ll find the traffic lights. He even puts his nose on the pedestrian crossing button for me. He’ll find doors and steps. He’s just amazing and a really good companion. He was out of action for 12 weeks last year when he had to have back surgery for a slipped disc. I stayed at home during his recovery and went back to using my cane when I went out. It was difficult because he wasn’t used to being left. I had to stagger my day but he’s fully recovered now.”
Year 1 from St Mary’s School attended the party as they have chosen Guide Dogs as their charity for the year. Pupil Xanthe said, “I really enjoyed trying to make the sandwich with the blindfold on, it was really tricky! I also liked meeting the dogs, they were so gentle and calm, and trying on all of the different glasses that made it hard to see.”