Dennis Robertson MSP and his trusty guide dog Mr Q led the way for the annual Guide Dogs’ awareness and fundraising of week, which kicked-off in Edinburgh on Saturday.
In September Mr Robertson, who has been registered as blind since the age of 11 and relies upon his guide dog for mobility and personal independence, lodged a motion at Holyrood to support the Guide Dog awareness campaign. The motion attracted the support of MSPs from all parties.
The walk set off from the Castle Esplanade and Mr Roberston and Mr Q led the march down the Mile to Holyrood Park Education Centre where there was an opportunity for members of the public to try a blindfold walk with a guide dog or experience some sighted guiding from a trained volunteer.
Mr Robertson, SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire West, said:
“I do a lot of travelling and my guide Mr Q is totally essential to assisting me getting around – he allows me to be independent.
“People love Mr Q and take to him straight away – very often they take to him faster than they take to me!
“I have had six different guide dogs and Mr Q is the most efficient and professional I have ever worked with – he is a very special boy and he gives me a better outlook on life.”
Colin Gallagher, Mobility Team Manager for Edinburgh, added:
“Blind and partially sighted people overcome extraordinary challenges everyday to live independently and do the things that the rest of us take for granted.
“For Guide Dogs Week 2012, we’re asking people to step into our world.
“Whether they come along to our event and try walking in blindfold, or organise their own challenge. We’re sure it will open people’s eyes.”
During the coming week, Guide Dogs Scotland will be holding Walk My Way events around the country:
- Tesco, Galashiels, Tuesday October 9th from 10am – 4pm.
- Union Square Shopping Centre, Aberdeen, Thursday 11th October from 10am – 4pm.
- St John’s Shopping Centre, Perth, Friday 12th October from 10am – 4pm.
- Walk a royal mile at Glamis Castle, Forfar, on Saturday 13th October from 10am, with the walk setting off at approximately 12.30pm.
Guide Dogs Scotland is also campaigning to press the UK Government to make guide dog food and supplies zero rated for VAT. http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/guide-dogs-scotland/campaigns/vat-on-dog-food-in-scotland/ Guide dogs and assistance dogs are not currently classified as working dogs for the purposes of VAT. Guide Dogs Scotland say that if they did not have to pay VAT on dog food, they would save £40,000 per year – enough to put another guide dog partnership on the street.