Generous taxi drivers | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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18 November, 2015

Generous taxi drivers

NSW Taxi Council Communications and Stakeholder Relations Manager Andrew McBride and Taxis Combined Marketing Executive Vito Giordano with Guide Dog puppy, Lucas.

Second Guide Dog recruit funded

NSW Taxi drivers are testament to the saying, 'just a few dollars can go a long way', after thousands put their hands in their pockets to raise enough funds to sponsor their second Guide Dog puppy, which will go on to help someone who is blind or vision impaired.

For the past 10 years, after the monthly Taxi Council driver education training seminar, participants have been given the opportunity to donate to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, which receives less than 2 per cent of its funding needs from the government.

The donations of loose change and more substantial contributions has seen the industry raise the total for their new sponsored dog in less than two years.

"With the demand for Guide Dogs increasing due to growing numbers of people having trouble getting around as a result of vision loss, we're incredibly grateful for the support we receive from the NSW Taxi Council," Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Community Education Coordinator, Jennifer Moon said.

"The funds raised by drivers will give another person with vision loss the freedom and independence of having a Guide Dog. We rely on the public's generosity to fund the more than $35,000 it costs to breed, raise and train each dog."

The question now is what to name the young pup. With so many drivers invested in the future of the sponsor dog, the Taxi Council plans to run a competition to name the new recruit.

NSW Taxi Council Training and Development Manager, Christina Klaasse with Guide Dog puppy, Lucas.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been an active partner of the NSW Taxi Industry and makes presentations to the Taxi Council's monthly training seminars for new drivers. This includes how to communicate with people who have impaired vision and the law that allows Guide Dogs to travel in taxis. Taxi drivers are also made aware of other mobility aids such as white canes.

"The aim of the presentation is to assist taxi drivers understand the importance of Guide Dogs to people with impaired vision and to breakdown any misconceptions that may exist," Ms Moon said.

"We also teach the drivers the best ways to assist passengers with impaired vision," she said.

NSW Taxi Council CEO, Roy Wakelin-King praised Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for doing an outstanding job training Guide Dogs and helping to educate taxi drivers.

"We take our responsibility in this area very seriously and are proud of our association with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT because it helps ensure equal access to transport services and improve the skills of drivers," Mr Wakelin-King said.

"The generous donations from taxi drivers at our training seminars demonstrate a respect for the work of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and an added appreciation for the importance of providing reliable and efficient transport for millions of passengers every year," he said.

"We are also very appreciative for the important contributions of country operators throughout NSW as well as Cabcharge, who between them have donated over $10,000 towards the next NSW Taxi Council sponsor puppy."

The Taxi Council's first sponsored puppy, Darcy, is now a working Guide Dog on the South Coast. His handler, Elaine Heskett recently visited the Taxi Council to thank them for their fundraising efforts.

Representatives from the Taxi Council presented a cheque to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT at the Mercure Hotel in Wolli Creek yesterday. Drivers also heard from a Guide Dog handler and met Guide Dog puppy, Lucas.