Whitehead couple invite golden retriever owners to fundraiser

Guide dog Quaker.
Guide dog Quaker.
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A Whitehead couple are holding a fundraiser for the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity on Saturday September 7.

Lisa and Terry Hopkins are organising a “doggy fun night” at Beechgrove Doggy Fun Park, in Banbridge, from 5.00 pm until 7.00 pm.

Owners of golden retrievers across Northern Ireland are being invited to attend.

Lisa and Terry, who met through Belfast Lough Sailability, a charity for disabled sailors, of which Lisa was a voluntary honorary secretary, are the founders of Golden Retrievers of Northern Ireland Facebook page.

They have raised thousands of pounds over the years for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Terry ran the London Marathon for Guide Dogs, in 1991, raising £5,000.

He was a recipient of the Queen’s Award for voluntary service with his guide dog “King” for the Sailing for the Disabled charity in the Isle of Man of which he was a founding member.

Terry, who suffers from a condition retinitis pigmentosa, and is blind and his Golden Retriever labrador cross guide dog “Quaker” are well-known in Whitehead.

The fundraiser is being held in memory of a former guide dog “Sooty” which died of cancer suddenly in May at the age of five years.

Lisa said that “Sooty” was also a “pets as therapy” dog working with autistic students.

“We wanted to do something for Guide Dogs to thank them for all they do and for giving us the privilege of having Sooty in our lives.

“He was a wonderful, amazing dog. I was honoured to be his owner. Many of you reached out to us while we were grieving our loss and we have made lifetime friends.

“So Pot of Gold is about celebrating all things golden, remembering a special dog and raising vital funds for a worthy cause.

“It costs over £50,000 over a working dog’s lifetime to cover the cost. Without a guide dog, my husband would be housebound, dependent on me to go places. Quaker gives him independence.”