A few weeks ago, we were visited at our Bury St. Edmunds store by a VIP guest, a very important pup! Thakey, who is just 20 weeks old, is currently in training to become a guide dog, all thanks to the outstanding fundraising by Bryan Garnham. 84-year-old Bryan has been helping Guide Dogs for over 50 years, raising around £49,000 since starting and helping 17 guide dogs gain the training needed. We’re proud to have helped Bryan on his journey, supporting him with old bike parts that he has repaired, reinvented and painted for resale. We’ve also helped him by providing services to the bikes prior to their resale.

Bryan was a Naval officer and it was this discipline that has been the mantra for his continued thoughtful and selfless actions in raising these sums. Mandy Loveder, Community Fundraising Development Officer at Guide Dogs commented that they are “really grateful to Cycle King and to Bryan Garnham for working in partnership to raise funds towards Thakey’s training, as well as to her puppy walker, Debbie. Without our supporters and volunteers, we simply wouldn’t be able to provide our mobility services to people in our community who are living with sight loss”.

Thakey’s visit to our Bury St. Edmund’s store fell on Bryan’s 84th birthday and we were excited to present Bryan with a celebratory cake! Although this was Thakey’s first visit to our store, we’d heard all about her progress over the last few months since raising £5000 to choose her name and sponsor her through her first year of socialisation training. It was also great to meet Thakey’s puppy walker Debbie, and find out all about the training and what her personality is like. It’s these little things that bring us closer to the whole process, and it’s fascinating! Thakey has already learned many of the basic obedience commands that will be used when she goes out into the world as part of a guide dog partnership. Debbie is doing a great job at supporting her to gain the skills and experiences she needs in order to become a wonderful guide dog one day.

Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss that has a significant impact on their daily lives. By 2050, this could increase to nearly four million. Helping Bryan raise money for Guide Dogs has been a brilliant journey so far and our day with Thakey, Debbie and Bryan was wonderful. If you’d like to find out more about the fantastic work carried out by Guide Dogs or help raise money yourself, please visit their website.