Puppy gets guidance at church service

GUIDE dog puppy Star enjoyed a real treat - as she met up with canine friends able to give her a few tips for the future.

GUIDE dog puppy Star enjoyed a real treat - as she met up with canine friends able to give her a few tips for the future.

The nine-week-old pup mingled with older guide dogs, some working, some retired, but for the most part sat on the back of her pal Umber just watching amazed at all the other dogs.

She was one of the guests at a special church service to celebrate the work of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

The Evening Star's Christmas appeal aims to raise £10,000 to help pay for Star's training so that she can become the eyes of a blind or visually-impaired person, setting them free to enjoy a much more fulfilled life.

Her puppy walker Penny Parker said: “It was a lovely service and very touching.

“It was great to be able to meet other puppy walkers and people with their guide dogs.

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“Star behaved herself really well and was quite fascinated by the whole thing, though she did fall asleep for a while in the service.”

Sixteen dogs took part in the event at St Mary's Church, Lawford.

Mrs Parkers said: “It was quite funny - one dog would bark and the bark would gradually go from dog to dog up the whole church, then one would whine and it would come all the way back again!”

Star was able to meet puppy Sugar, who was born from a different litter but around the same time as her to start her training. The pair went to the front of the church for prayers.

Organiser of the service, Marjorie Culham, who has been a puppy walker for 20 years, said the service had started in 1991 and marked the anniversary of the first guide dog qualifying from training in 1931.

She said: “It was a lovely service. We had puppies, current guide dogs and retired ones, and one or two which trained but for one reason or another didn't quite make it through to being a working dog.”

Rev Lesley Bannister, herself visually impaired, gave the talk during the service.

Have you been helped by Guide Dogs for the Blind? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

The Puppy Prayer:

Please dear God give my mum the help she will need to care for me

Understanding is a gift from you I know we'll both need

Please help us to remember You are always there

Patience is a word I don't know the meaning of, but have been told it's very important

Yes, with your help I will bring much happiness to everyone I meet

Pleasure and companionship I long to give

Release any tension I may cause when temptation comes my way

Accelerate my learning Lord

Yes I know You will love me even when I am mischievous

Excuse me when I'm really naughty

Radiant I will be when I grow up, knowing I am still a child of Yours.


We want the whole community to get involved with the appeal and really need your help today.

Every penny and pound will count and ensure Star gets the best care and training - so if you are organising a fundraising event for the appeal, then we want to hear so we can give it maximum publicity and help boost the amount raised.

So let us know what you are up to - get in touch with Richard Cornwell at the Felixstowe Newsdesk on 01394 284109 or the Ipswich Newsdesk on 01473 324788.

To donate to the appeal, please send cheques - made payable to the Guide Dogs - to Richard Cornwell, Evening Star, 172 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, IP11 7DU.

FASTFACTS: Guide Dogs for the Blind

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was founded in Britain in 1934.

Every year the association breeds more than 1,000 guide dog puppies, mostly labrador/retriever crosses.

Some 21,000 blind and partially-sighted people have experienced the independence a guide dog can bring.

The association needs more than £50 million a year to carry out its work.

This money comes entirely from voluntary donations - two thirds of it from legacies and the rest from fundraising events.

The charity is supported by about 10,000 volunteers, including puppy walkers, brood-stock holders, dog boarders and thousands of local fundraisers.

Guide dogs generally retire at the age of nine or 10. Many stay with their owner, as a pet

There are about 220 guide dog owners in East Anglia.