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11 August, 2016

Meet the Guide Dogs team at AgQuip

Opportunity to learn about services at annual field days

Nelson the Guide Dog will make his debut at the AgQuip Field Days next week, but it won't be the first time his handler, Phillip Tilley, has joined the team from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to raise awareness of the organisation's local services, delivered at no cost.

Phillip, who has helped the team at the annual event for a number of years, recently received his first Guide Dog, a beautiful blonde Labrador, after using a long cane for eight years to safely and independently navigate his surroundings.

"I want to encourage people to seek help and speak to Guide Dogs about learning how to use a long cane and other mobility devices and then possibly take the next step and consider a Guide Dog, like I have," Phillip said.

The organisation, which is the leading provider of Guide Dogs and other services that enable people with vision loss to be independent, will also have an information and merchandise stand at AgQuip.

Speak to expert specialists about how they can assist

"We are looking forward to meeting people at the field days, particularly those who have just been diagnosed with vision loss and might not realise the range of services we can offer them," said Jeremy Hill, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Regional Manager Northern NSW.

"Visiting our stand at AgQuip is a great opportunity to learn how our services can help if vision loss is affecting your ability to get around," he said.

"A person doesn't have to be totally blind to receive assistance - whether you're losing your sight due to Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma or another condition or injury, we can help you to understand your vision loss and provide practical advice on how to maintain your independence so you can continue to get around safely and confidently."

Also, at the Guide Dogs stand will be another regular to the event, Richard Newberry, with his Guide Dog, Henny.

With the support of Guide Dogs over a number of decades, Richard is so passionate about the organisation, which receives less than 2 per cent of its funding needs from the government, that he was a Guide Dogs Board Member for 15 years.

A blonde Guide Dog sitting in harness.

Mr Hill said more than a third of people with eye disorders live in country areas, and research shows that people in rural and regional areas, especially males, tend to not get their eyes checked regularly.

"So our attendance at AgQuip also aims to get people thinking about their eye health," Mr Hill said.

"We visit you, where and when it suits you and the service is provided at no cost," he said.

Over the past year, Orientation & Mobility Specialists from Guide Dogs have provided more than 7,000 training programs to residents who have trouble getting around due to vision loss.

Purchase merchanise and help raise much-needed funds

The Guide Dogs NSW/ACT stand will include branded merchandise for sale to help raise much-needed funds to keep up with demand for its services. This includes the cost of more than $35,000 to breed, raise and train one Guide Dog.

Staff will also be available to discuss other ways the public can support the organisation, such as leaving a gift or bequest in their Will.

Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with uncorrectable vision loss, including nine who become blind.