The Axe Cliff Golf Club has presented a cheque for £409 to Guide Dogs for the Blind - the cause nominated for the club's fundraising by last year's Seniors Captain Stephen Thompson.

The cheque was received by Lena Welch, who is sight-impaired herself and has volunteered for the charity since 2008 because of her personal 'life changing' experience of having a guide dog. She is now the coordinator of the charity's East Devon fundraising group.

Also in attendance was Geoff Chapple, a puppy raiser for the charity, with his first young dog Ozzy.

Lena has had guide dogs since 2008 and is passionate about the charity's work. Having been sight-impaired since birth, she said she 'bumbled through life' until she left secondary school to go to college and decided she needed some help. 

Her current dog Alex is her fourth, as her previous dogs had to retire. She has kept her second dog, Texan, because he is 'extra special' - he actually saved her life by preventing her from stepping out in front of a fast-moving car. Texan received the Guide Dog of the Year award in 2012.

Lena said: "Each of my four dogs has given me an independence and confidence I never thought I'd be able to have, and simple things like being able to go to the shop independently to buy an ingredient that I needed to bake my family a cake was such a joyous moment. 

"Just being able to pick up that harness and walk tall and proud with my guide dog by my side, which previously had been near enough impossible without another person with me, made me realise how life-changing these dogs are in such a short space of time."

It costs Guide Dogs around £55,000 to support each dog from birth to retirement, and the charity also uses its funds to make sure no-one has to live without a guide dog because of financial constraints. The charity also provides mobility training to help users remain independent in the 'gap' when their guide dog retires and they are waiting for a new one.

Lena said: "I am now in the early stages of my partnership with Alex and for me, being without a guide dog for a while makes me feel grateful for the simple pleasure of going for a walk in nature with her by my side keeping me safe. Having a guide dog means I get a lot less tired because I don't have to worry about bumping into things and having to work out how to get round an object because she does all that for me."

Any local businesses that would like to support Guide Dogs by hosting a collection on their premises or having a donations box on site can contact Lena by emailing