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23 February, 2016

Gulliver delivers important message to South Coast

Gulliver being towed along a road by a silver car

Gulliver's school tour

Gulliver, the World's Biggest Guide Dog is set to delight children and teenagers across the South Coast when he tours primary and secondary schools this month.

The 4.3 metre tall fibreglass Labrador will travel to Wyndham, Bega, Ulladulla and Nowra and many other towns in between with a team from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, who will deliver a very important message about the free services offered by the organisation.

The wider community will also have the opportunity to learn more about Guide Dogs in the Bega and Narooma town centres.

At each school, students will hear from Elaine Heskett, who is vision impaired and uses a Guide Dog to move safely and independently through her environment.

The Mossy Point resident describes her Guide Dog, Darcy, as her "eyes and constant companion".

"Darcy allows me to walk upright and use the little sight I have to orientate myself in my environment instead of only seeing a bit of the ground immediately in front of my cane," she said.

"When he is in harness he is constantly watching the way ahead and also making allowance for any obstacles such as tree branches at head height. He helps me walk up and down steps, find doorways and refuses to cross a road or driveway even if I have told him to go if there is any danger from traffic."

Elaine with her Guide Dog Darcy

Mrs Heskett said Darcy had given her the freedom to do the things she enjoys. "He has made it possible for my husband and family to be less anxious about me when I am out on my own."

At each school, she will also educate the students about Guide Dog etiquette such as not patting or distracting a Guide Dog when it is in harness.

A Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation and Mobility Specialist will then speak about the other services offered by Guide Dogs and invite participants to undertake a blindfold walk.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Regional Manager, Patrick Shaddock, said he hoped the tour would educate the South Coast community about the mobility aids and electronic devices used by people who are blind or vision impaired.

"We also seek to inform the younger generation that like Gulliver on his travels throughout the ACT and NSW, our instructors travel to wherever our services are required," he said.

"We come to you, wherever that may be - your home, your workplace, your school or university - learning to find your way around your particular environment is a top priority."

There are an estimated 300,000 Australians with uncorrectable vision loss (in 2016), 100,000 of whom live in NSW and the ACT. These figures are predicted to increase by more than 50 per cent by 2030.

For more information about local services contact the Guide Dogs on 02 6652 7424 or visit

Gulliver's South Coast Tour Program

February 23 - Wyndham Public School
Wyndham Public School Wolumla Public School
Tathra Public School
Bega town centre

February 24 - Bega High School
Quaama Public School
Central Tilba Public School
Narooma town centre

February 25 - Bodalla Public School
Ulladulla Public School
St Michael's Catholic Primary School