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Travel Counsellors are partnering with national charity Irish Guide Dogs, with the commitment to sponsoring vital first year training of a new-born puppy. The announcement comes ahead of national Guide Dog Day this Friday, 10 May.

Travel Counsellors will be raising funds throughout the year for the new puppy, born on 22 April, who has been called Reuben. Fundraisers will be held over the coming 12 months by individual Travel Counsellors and staff from the Irish head office. Additionally, the company itself will match the amount raised.

General  Manager of Travel Counsellors Cathy Burke said: “We are delighted to partner with Irish Guide Dogs for such a worthwhile cause, and what better way to begin our journey with the charity than on the week of the very first national Guide Dog Day. This national charity does so much to help those who are vision impaired and families of children with autism to achieve improved mobility and independence.

“At Travel Counsellors, we are committed to making travel more widely accessible for everyone, regardless of ability. At our annual national conference last month at Powerscourt Hotel, John Burke, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Irish Guide Dogs, and Rebecca Galligan, whose son has an assistance dog, spoke on the huge value of the Irish Guide Dogs. In particular, Rebecca was able to share her family’s inspiring journey with a guide dog and the huge benefit it can have in someone’s life.

“Partnering with Irish Guide Dogs to provide training support to its newest recruit is something that we cannot wait to be part of. We look forward to fundraising throughout the year, and watching Rueben train to be a guide dog, to ultimately bring assurance and independence to someone in need.”

A ‘Name the Puppy’ competition took place for families of Travel Counsellors, with the ask for suggested ‘R’ names. The winning name, Reuben was chosen by nine year-old Sam Buckley, the son of Naas Travel Counsellor Gail Buckley. Fundraising events planned include a group climb by Travel Counsellors and their families of Galtymore, which will be led by Kanturk-based Travel Counsellor and mountaineer Niamh Quinlan on 13 July and 24 August. A fashion show and cake sales are also planned in the coming months.

There are more than 13,000 registered blind people in Ireland and over 250,000 people impacted by autism. The average cost of training a guide and assistance dog is in the region of €53,000 and the Irish Guide Dogs relies on 85% of their funding through sponsorship and fundraising to continue to deliver their vital services for free throughout Ireland.

General Manager of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind Tim O’Mahony said:  “We thank Travel Counsellors around Ireland and the head office staff for their very generous investment and support as with their help we can continue to create exceptional partnerships between people and their dogs. Our highly trained dogs empower people to move safely and confidently around their communities. 85% of our income comes from fundraising and donations from the public. Our partnership with Travel Counsellors means we can provide a future for a family of a child with autism or assist a person with a visual impairment to achieve independence.”

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