Column in Morley Observer & Advertiser

Imagine going about everyday life but unable to see. Getting to the shop to a loaf of bread suddenly becomes really difficult. Add physical obstacles along the way, such as lampposts, wheelie bins or parked cars and a simple task becomes both a real challenge and potentially dangerous.

Thanks to wonderful charities such as Guide Dogs, blind and partially sighted people can overcome barriers like these. Their amazing staff train new guide dogs and campaign for better awareness of the issues blind and partially sighted people face going about their everyday lives.

On Friday I experienced it for myself. I was blindfolded and given the challenge to get from my Morley office over to Morrisons and buy some eggs.

I put my trust in Simba – A fabulous Labrador-Retriever cross who is currently completing his advanced training to become a guide dog.

Straight away I realised how disorientating it is to suddenly lose one of your senses. I could no longer see but my other senses immediately tried to compensate. I could feel every bump in the pavement, every sound, even the vegetables and meat in the supermarket smelled different.

It was all very disorientating and I had no choice but to put all my trust in Simba. He took me safely down Commercial Street, Albion Street, across the road and up to Morrisons. We navigated ourselves successfully around busy shoppers and through the checkout. It was an exhausting experience.

And it totally changed my perception of hazards on the street. Parking on pavements, leaving wheelie bins on the footpath or pushing past people makes a guide dogs job harder.

I realised that we all have a duty to do more to make Simba’s job easier – and that of other guide dogs too.

When Simba qualifies in a few weeks time he will totally transform someone’s life. And I’m looking forward to doing more to support Guide Dogs campaigns. Videos of my experience are on my website

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Posted February 5th, 2014 by Ed