Axminster mayor Jeremy Walden in a blind fold with Liz Orme and Dotty the Guide Dog negotiate hazards in the town centre on Thursday. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref mha 1522-41-13SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.midweekherald.co.uk
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Axminster’s first citizen finds out what life is like for the visually impaired in a busy town centre
Axminster Mayor Jeremy Walden took a blindfold walk around the town last week - to highlight the plight of the visually impaired.
He was accompanied by a sighted helper - Liz Orme - and a guide dog, called Dotty, during his market day trek.
“What an eye opening experience it was – not pun intended,” he told The Herald afterwards.
“I thought I knew the town. Once blindfolded, however, you realise how little actually ‘see’. I was scared, but with Dotty my guide dog, after a few steps, I began to relax, and she guided me through the market and up to McColls, and inside. “When we came out, genuinely not pre-arranged, there was a mobility scooter blocking the pavement. I knew I could take my blindfold off at any time, and had a trained helper, but it was a scary experience because there was just not enough room for me to pass. This is what Guide Dogs call an ‘off the kerb’ situation, and Dotty tried to guide me off the kerb and around the scooter - but clearly she was aware that this was a dangerous place to go, and just stopped.
“How much more dangerous must this be for the genuinely visually impaired, with no fall back position like me. This just goes to show how unacceptable relocating the Post Office to McColls will be.
“I am in awe both of the Guide Dogs and their owners. Dotty was superb, and this organisation deserves all people’s support. For those in Axminster with a little time to spare, they need help fundraising. If you can please help.”
Cllr Walden’s blindfold walk was organised by The Axminster and District Branch of Guide Dogs as part of a fund raising and information day.
Billed as “a coffee morning with a difference’ the event took place in the Church Rooms and on the Minster Green and raised more than £200.
A spokeswoman for the branch thanked all their supporters and especially Axminster town crier Nick Goodwin, who “spread the word”.
To find out more about volunteering to help Guide Dogs including puppy walking, boarding or fundraising or to request a speaker, call Julie on 01297 21056.