Bassingbourn man tells of first year with life-changing guide dog ahead of charity fundraiser

PUBLISHED: 11:42 11 January 2018

Nick with Amber, who has given him back his independence. Picture: NIck Burr

Nick with Amber, who has given him back his independence. Picture: NIck Burr

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A Bassingbourn man who went blind in 2015 after battling cancer is to throw a fundraiser for the charity who provided him with the guide dog that has changed his life.

Amber went through two years of intensive training to be a guide dog. Picture: NIck BurrAmber went through two years of intensive training to be a guide dog. Picture: NIck Burr

Nick Burr was given German Shepherd Amber by charity Guide Dogs in December last year after she had undergone two years of intense training.

The 29-year-old told the Crow: “You have to apply and once you have done that they come round and fill a form in, it’s like a dating form because they have to match you up with the right dog, so it’s about how tall you are for example, and the type of dog you need.

“It is a big commitment, because you have to keep up the training with the dog when you get one – I waited eight weeks for Amber but it can be two years.

“A guide dog gives you more independence. With a cane you have to move, think, listen, but now Amber takes on half of that responsibility – the only downside is you can’t just say ‘go to the pub’ because she doesn’t know where the pub is.”

Nick with his three-year-old guide dog Amber. Picture: NIck BurrNick with his three-year-old guide dog Amber. Picture: NIck Burr

“There have been some funny moments. We’ve been in many people’s front gardens, we ended up in the graveyard of Bassingbourn’s parish church.

“She licked some French bread in Tesco, and I said ‘well we’ll have to buy that now’ – she’s still a dog after all”

Nick – who is a member of the Royston Guide Dog Fundraising Group – is throwing a cheese and wine night for Guide Dogs after being inspired by a similar event at Cambridge charity Camsight, where he now works as a fundraising and promotions officer.

At the event you get six different wines to sample, three glasses of red and three white, accompanied by a selection of cheeses and savoury snacks.

Nick Burr's guide dog Amber, right, playing with other dog Beau. Picture: NIck BurrNick Burr's guide dog Amber, right, playing with other dog Beau. Picture: NIck Burr

The night will have a twist, there will be four wine experts attending, but they may not all be telling the truth about the drinks, and it will be up to the tables to call their bluff. There will also be a raffle with lots prizes from local businesses.

He said: “A guide dog cost £56,800 from birth to retirement – they pay for training, vets bills, dog food and other costs, so I just want to give something back.”

Tickets to the Call My Bluff Wine and Cheese Night – which starts at 7.30pm on January 20 at Royston Masonic Hall – cost £20. For tickets or for more information on the Royston fundraising group email nick.burr123@gmail.com

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