The Countryfile presenter learns how having a buddy dog has changed the life of a budding Paralympian.
LONDON, Sept. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Countryfile star Adam Henson took time out of a busy day on his farm to meet buddy dog owner Evie Gormley in a new heart-warming video from charity Guide Dogs.
Sixteen-year-old Evie, from Aberdare in Mid-Glamorgan and her buddy dog, Uma, met Adam at his Cotswold Farm Park near Cheltenham to chat about sight loss and their shared love for animals.
Buddy dog Uma is a partner and friend to Evie, helping her to overcome barriers around her vision impairment. This is something that Adam has a very personal connection with, having lost his nephew Ben, who had sight loss, to cancer at a young age.
Adam said: «When my late nephew Ben lost his sight at five years old, it brought home to me the challenges facing families with a visually-impaired child. Animals had a wonderfully calming and therapeutic influence on him, dogs in particular, so I fully understand the incredible impact that Uma has had on Evie.
«It was delightful to meet them both. She’s a wonderful person and listening to her explain how Uma has given her back her confidence was inspiring.»
Evie, who has Ramos-Arroyo Syndrome, a condition which affects both her eyesight and hearing, first applied to Guide Dogs’ Buddy Dog scheme in 2016, when she was 12. She was soon matched with Uma, a black Labrador x Retriever cross.
From that moment, Uma hasn’t left the side of the aspiring young judo star, giving her the confidence to make friends and train for her goal of joining the Paralympic judo team.
Evie explained: «Before I had Uma, I didn’t talk or play much, and I didn’t have many friends. Now I have her, people come up to me to say hello and I’ve made a lot more friends.
«She also loves helping me with my training, sitting with me while I do push ups and running alongside me when we’re in the park. She’s amazing!»
Buddy Dogs is a service designed to specifically help children and young people with sight loss, by providing them with a friendly dog.
Project Manager for the Buddy Dogs service at Guide Dogs, Verity De Winton, said: «Buddy dogs are wonderful for children and young people with sight loss. They are not guide dogs, but they help to develop self-confidence, improve relationships and have a hugely positive effect on the child and family’s well-being».
Evie added: «I don’t see myself as having a ‘condition’, I just have to do things differently to achieve my goals. Uma is always with me and has helped me so much with my confidence. I’m starting college in September and she’s helped me realise that one day, I will definitely be applying for a guide dog.»
Notes to Editors
1) Watch the video in full here: https://youtu.be/BHRqcI9omhQ
2) The video and images of Adam and Evie can be downloaded here: https://we.tl/t-f4blNsSZmM Please credit Guide Dogs when used.
About Buddy Dogs
Buddy Dogs is a Guide Dogs service which provides dogs for children and young people to help develop their self-confidence, improve relationships and build a greater sense of trust. They have been given a career change because life as a guide dog wasn’t quite right for them. They are not suited to the traditional guiding role of a guide dog. For more information visit: https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/getting-support/help-for-children-and-families/buddy-dogs-for-children
About Guide Dogs
The charity Guide Dogs exists to provide life-changing services to the 360,000 people who are registered blind or partially sighted, and the two million people in the UK living with sight loss. We believe no-one with sight loss should be left out of life and we want everyone who experiences sight loss to be able to live the life they choose and feel confident, independent and supported in the world.
We’re a UK-wide charity, founded in 1934 following our first guide dog partnership in 1931. We are best known for our world-famous guide dogs, but our work now encompasses so much more. In recent years, we have expanded our services beyond our dogs to help thousands of people, of all ages and with different needs, to reach their potential and lead fulfilling lives. Find out more at guidedogs.org.uk. To help us continue our life-changing work, we rely on donations – every pound raised makes a difference.