Special thank you to dedicated student | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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14 November, 2016

Special thank you to dedicated student

John receives the John Lincoln Youth Community Service Award from Vice Chancellor Professor S. Bruce Downton.

Handler's gratitude for help in exercising her Guide Dog

When Guide Dog handler, Gisele Mesnage, placed a notice in a school newsletter asking for someone to help exercise her Guide Dog, D’artagnan, she never imagined that the same dedicated student would be assisting her rain, hail or shine five years later.

Aged just 12 at the time, Trinity Grammar Student, John Dunn responded to that notice and can now be spotted running the black Labrador at the school’s oval every Tuesday.

“John meets me each week at 6am at the school gate and we have a chat as he supervises D’artagnan during his free run,” Gisele said.

“John also guides me during this time as I don’t have D’artagnan to assist. He does this with confidence in front of all of his school mates. He is such a beautiful person.”  

D’artagnan in harness on his graduation day in 2011.

John, who has just turned 17, meets Gisele even it if is raining and cold and never complains about the job of picking up after D’artagnan. He even keeps his commitment to exercise D’artagnan during the school holidays.

When D’artagnan has his harness on and is assisting Gisele to navigate her environment, he is tasked with ignoring distractions such as food and noise, travelling on public transport, finding landmarks such as bus stops, and crossing the road safely, so his free run is his downtime.

“The time John spends exercising D’artagnan is very important for his health, wellbeing and happiness,” Gisele said. 

Gisele disembarking from a ferry with her Guide Dog, D’artagnan.

John acknowledged for his efforts at awards ceremony

When Gisele heard that John would receive the John Lincoln Youth Community Service Award from the Order of Australia Association at a special ceremony at Macquarie University, she could not think of anyone more appropriate to be honoured than the teenager. 

The award, which was presented by the Vice Chancellor Professor S. Bruce Downton on September 14, acknowledged John’s commitment to helping Gisele, along with his work as a lifesaver at Coogee beach and also as a volunteer at Exodus Church in Ashfield.

He has also actively fundraised for various charities and has received Certificates of Appreciation from World Vision for the 40 Hour Famine, the Salvation Army and from Swags for Homeless, who nominated him as an Australia Day Hero in 2012 for his contributions.

“John is a very special young man who deserves recognition for his dedication. I am very happy that he has received such a distinguished award” Gisele said.