The Chairman’s blind date with a furry friend | Sevenoaks District Council
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The Chairman’s blind date with a furry friend

Published: Friday, 31st March 2017

For people who are blind or visually impaired, making their way around the busy streets can be a challenge.

Sevenoaks District Chairman, Cllr Simon Raikes learned more about the difficulties blind people face as he met with guide dogs and trainers from the Sevenoaks branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind, as Vice Chairman, Cllr Larry Abraham experienced a guided walk by one of the dogs himself. 
 
The walk on 28 March was arranged as part of a campaign called ‘Streets Ahead’, which aims to tackle obstacles to accessibility on the UK’s streets, whether that’s through the design of a street or reducing the excessive amounts of clutter on pavements. 
 
Cllr Raikes, was joined by Vice Chairman, Cllr Larry Abraham who donned a blindfold as he negotiated the High Street and London Road using a trained sighted guider, a long white cane and a guide dog called Spirit who has just qualified before going on to train with his new owner.  
 
Guide Dogs for the Blind are one of the Chairman’s two chosen charities along with West Kent Mind and Cllr Raikes was pleased to be reunited with another guide dog named Freddie who him and his wife, Christine, had sponsored for training. 
 
Sevenoaks District Chairman, Cllr Simon Raikes, says: “The Guide Dogs for the Blind, working through its amazing and dedicated volunteers, does a wonderful job locally and I am thrilled to support its Streets Ahead campaign in a way that I hope will increase public support for its work.
 
“This was a real insight into the difficulties faced by people who are blind or partially sighted and it’s important we raise awareness of the challenges they face on a daily basis. 
 
“I have worked with Guide Dogs for Blind previously and worn the blindfolded, which is a daunting prospect but Spirit was extremely confident in manoeuvring Cllr Abraham around lampposts and other residents in the town and that is a testament to all the work the charity does”.