There was a warm welcome for Sydney, a trainee guide dog, when he visited the Saltaire offices of Packetts’ insurance brokers. Staff at Packetts had selected Guide Dogs as their chosen charity 12 months earlier and the money they raised is paying for Sydney’s training.
“We’d aimed to raise £5,000,” says Packetts’ MD, Marshall Sugden. “But we went past that target and ended the year with £6,000. We’re specialists in providing insurance cover for the ‘not-for-profit’ sector and have had a close business relationship with Guide Dogs for 25 years, providing them with bespoke insurance arrangements to meet their changing needs. They were a natural choice for our fundraising efforts. We will celebrate our centenary in 2020; Sydney has been named after Sydney Packett, the man who founded the business.”
Sydney still has a lot of work to do before he becomes a fully qualified guide dog. From 8 weeks of age, he lives with a volunteer family for a year and will then start his formal training with a fully qualified Guide Dog Trainer. During that time, he’s regularly assessed for his behaviour, general medical condition and suitability as a guide dog.
With two million people who are blind or partially sighted in the UK, a figure that could double by 2050, the work of the Guide Dogs charity is going to become increasingly important. Many people who are visually impaired rarely leave their homes alone. Having a guide dog like Sydney can give them freedom and independence, enabling them to live the life they choose.
Alison Huitson, Corporate Partnerships Officer at Guide Dogs, added: “It takes around 20 months of specialised training to transform a newborn puppy into a confident guide dog. During the advanced training stage, Sydney will work with a qualified Guide Dog Trainer and a Mobility Instructor, he’ll undergo regular medicals and have his behaviour assessed to ensure he’s ready to become a reliable partner for his future owner, ultimately changing their life forever and that of their friends and family. We’ve been absolutely delighted that Packetts have focussed their fundraising efforts on us over the past year, it’s always a real pleasure working with such a dedicated and enthusiastic company. Thank you everyone at Packetts!”