SWINDON mayor David Wren presented a cheque for £5,000 to the Swindon branch of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association at South Marston Primary School yesterday.
The money from the Mayor’s Charity Fund, raised with the help of several local schools, will buy a guide dog and pay for its training and upkeep for a year.
South Marston Primary School was allowed to name the new dog because the pupils raised the most money per head towards the project.
Coun Wren said: “It is fantastic they have raised that much money.
“I went around the classrooms when I first paid a visit a couple of months ago and their school work was focused around the association and what it meant to be blind.”
He added: “I chose to support Swindon Guide Dogs because, when I was a lot younger, I actually went blind in my left eye. It was a really worrying time for me. I have got my sight back now but I did appreciate then how worrying it is to lose your sight.”
Mayors in Swindon get to nominate several charities to raise money for during the civic year from May to May.
Coun Wren, who will step down at the end of this week, also chose community radio station Swindon 105.5, Thamesdown Hydrotherapy Pool and Swindon Carers.
He has so far generated just over £26,000 through donations from businesses and individuals, as well as events, such as concerts.
Five local schools raised about £300 towards the £5,000 target for Swindon Guide Dogs.
South Marston, which raised the most money for the number of pupils at about 85p per head, named the puppy ‘Marston’ after the school. Coun Wren presented the cheque to Alan Fletcher, chairman of the local branch, during a special assembly yesterday.
Coun Wren has pledged to have his hair and beard shaved off if Swindon residents can raise at least another £1,000 before the end of the week. The fundraiser – named Hair Today Gone Tomorrow – is planned to take place in the Brunel Centre on Thursday, June 3 at noon.
To sponsor him, send a cheque payable to Swindon Borough Council to:
Mayor’s Parlour, Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon, SN1 2JH.
Cheques should be marked with the words ‘mayor’s haircut’.
Volunteers look after and socialise guide dogs between the ages of about six weeks and 14 months.
As well as providing food and accommodation, duties include teaching basic obedience and introducing the animals to public environments, such as buses and schools.
No previous experience is needed and all costs are covered, however puppy walkers must be able to devote a lot of time to the animals.
For more information, call the charity’s national recruitment office on 0845 371 7771.
The original article is available here.