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The Corporation

Posted: 28/03/17

Nathan, meet…Nathan!

Two years of hard work and fundraising has seen the visual impairment team at West Nottinghamshire College reach their goal of sponsoring their own guide dog puppy, who they met last week.

  • The college's VI team with Guide Dogs' Nichola Bonsall (back row 2nd right) and ex-student Nathan, with puppy Nathan and his walkers
  • Student Claire O'Shea who helped raise money to sponsor Nathan, with Guide Dogs' Nichola Bonsall
  • All the fun of meeting new people tired Nathan out

Seven months old black Labrador puppy Nathan, joined members of the visual impairment team, with Nichola Bonsall, Guide Dogs’ community fundraiser for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, his walkers Chris and Gaynor Usher and a very special guest also called Nathan.

On Wednesday (22 March), puppy Nathan was very excited to meet his namesake Nathan Edge, an ex-student at the college who sadly lost his sight during his time at West Notts. He joined the college in 2010 and received additional learning support to provide access to his course.

It was in 2014, whilst completing his final year, it declined rapidly and he lost his sight altogether. Fortunately, he was introduced to Labrador Hudson, who is now his best friend who enables him to live a happy and independent life.

It was Nathan’s story which inspired the visual impairment team to become involve with the national Guide Dogs charity and looked to sponsor a guide dog puppy, so they could help others benefit from a dog like Hudson.

Their initial goal was to raise £1,500 and be able to meet and name a puppy, and this was realised yesterday at the college’s Derby Road campus, after many months of raising cash through a dress down day, a Christmas and Easter market and a sponsored silence by childcare student Claire O’Shea, who was also there to meet the puppy.

Upon meeting his namesake, Nathan Edge said: “This is amazing – it’s great to know the students and staff have put in all this hard work to raise the money to sponsor a puppy. Nathan seems very lively and playful and reminds me a bit of Hudson when he was younger.

“Nathan will go on to change someone’s life just as my dog has changed mine and I’m truly honoured that they’ve chosen to name him after me.”

Nichola Bonsall said: “Currently Nathan is staying with his walkers Gaynor and Chris Usher who are very used to walking new recruits!

“The college has raised over £1,500 and this is great as the lifetime cost of a working guide dog is £55,000. If it wasn’t for this kind of fundraising we wouldn’t be able to provide the service.

“When Nathan leaves his puppy walkers he’ll move to a training centre for early training and then progress to advanced training. After that he’ll be matched with an applicant, carefully monitoring how fast he walks, how tall he’s grown and we carefully select the right dog to the right person’s lifestyle.”

Visual impairment co-ordinator Rachel Fletcher said: “It was so exciting and wonderful to meet Nathan; he is a beautiful, intelligent and lovely natured puppy who will go on to have an incredibly positive impact on somebody’s life.

“I’m delighted and proud that the funds have been raised to contribute to this worthy and life- changing organisation. I hope that our partnership with Guide Dogs will continue and result in many more successful outcomes.”