Posted on 10 November 2021
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the charity; Guide dogs UK.
Remembrance day and guide dogs are more closely linked than you may think.
Ninety years ago, two women set out to train a handful of dogs to support four blinded First World War soldiers.
The idea to train dogs to offer support was the brainchild of breeders Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond in 1931.
From a lock-up garage in Wallasey, Merseyside, they trained four German shepherds – Judy, Folly, Flash and Meta – to help four veterans blinded in the First World War. In October 1931, the UK’s first guide dog partnerships qualified and the first four dogs changed the first four lives.
The men they help are pictured above and their names were Tomos ap Rhys, Musgrave Frankland, Allen Caldwell and G W Lamb.
One day after his 20th birthday on 5 July 1917, Tomos was discharged back to his Welsh home, officially declared blind from the effects of gas after wearing a faulty mask. In 1931, Tomos found himself in a lock-up garage in Wallasey, Merseyside, about to embark on a radical experiment with two innovative women and was paired with Folly, his companion until retired at the age of 10.
In the interwar years no one in the UK had ever seen a blind person being guided by a dog. What the people saw that day 90 years ago as Tomos and Folly took to the streets, was a pioneering experiment that led to the liberation of thousands of blind and partially sighted people.
Three years later their pioneering project was so successful that The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was formally founded. In 1940 they launched their first training centre and by 1956 had started to recruit volunteer puppy walkers.
A breeding programme began in 1960, with Labradors, golden retrievers and German shepherds the most common.
In the mid-Sixties the charity was introduced to a new generation when BBC children’s show Blue Peter launched an appeal to collect silver foil and milk bottle tops – funding two guide puppies and following their training.
Guide Dogs UK is now the UK’s No1 provider of services for children and young people with vision impairment. But it caters for all ages – in 2020, the youngest was 14 and the oldest 97.
You do not need to have lost all your sight, or be registered blind or partially sighted, to benefit from its services.
To find out more about their incredible 90 year history click on the following link https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/guide-dogs-90th-anniversary/
Colin Lee and Jenks Opticians are proud supporters of Guide dogs UK supporting them over the years through different charity evens as well as some staff members being involved directly with the charity by helping bring up the pups. We also have some patients who are Dog carers and the practices often welcome their dogs for visits.