Civic leaders in Rugby learn first-hand about visual impairment

Guide Dog Week'Pictured are Terry Smith ( Engagement Manager ), Jackie Elshaw with her dog Biscuit, Mayor Kathryn Lawrence with Lara the dog, Neil Rance '( Guide Dog Mobility Assistant ), Felicity Stratton ( Community Fundraiser ) & Chris Wade with his dog Munro
Guide Dog Week'Pictured are Terry Smith ( Engagement Manager ), Jackie Elshaw with her dog Biscuit, Mayor Kathryn Lawrence with Lara the dog, Neil Rance '( Guide Dog Mobility Assistant ), Felicity Stratton ( Community Fundraiser ) & Chris Wade with his dog Munro

RUGBY’S mayor and MP had a glimpse of what life is like for blind people when they took part in a project on Friday.

It helped Cllr Kathryn Lawrence and Mark Pawsey understand the everyday barriers faced by those who are blind and partially sighted.

She said: “I met Chris Wade from Guide Dogs for the Blind and his guide dog Munro, Jacqueline and her guide dog Biscuit and Lara, a guide dog in training and her trainer Neil.”

The group walked from Rugby Art Gallery and Museum through to Rugby Market on Friday and along High Street and Sheep Street on Friday.

Cllr Lawrence said: “A-boards on the pavements, tables and chairs that have no barrier or fencing were just some of the obstacles that cause problems because they narrow the available space outside buildings.”

She said for those who are visually impaired, using a stick or relying on a guide dog, the portable street furniture is not only an obstacle but also a hazard.

Cllr Lawrence said: “Mobility scooter users are not always aware that the person in front of them may be visually impaired.

“Pedestrianised areas also give no guidance to those with sight problems, particularly when pavements and kerbs are removed because these are reference points and guides to both the dog and those with sight problems. The other problem I encountered is that of uneven paving stones which can trip anybody up.”

She gave praise to Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, adding: “They have bright orange door frames to the lift which are really helpful for those with sight problems.”

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey met with representatives of Guide Dogs for the Blind to discuss local issues affecting blind and partially sighted people.

Following the meeting he walked under blindfold with a guide dog through the streets of Rugby, accompanied by a guide dog mobility instructor.

“This is one of the things that I wouldn’t get to do if I wasn’t an MP,” said Mr Pawsey.

“My guide dog was called Lara and she was brilliant. She made me feel very safe.”

The MP said he became more aware of his sense of touch and smell.

“It was a fascinating experience,” added Mr Pawsey.

“I got a lot out of it. We walked from my office in Castle Mews through the Clock Towers Shoping Centre to Barclays Bank. I’m much more aware of the needs of blind people.”

Staff at Specsavers in Rugby held their yearly fundraiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind. They got dressed up in their slippers and sold cakes to raise hundreds of pounds for charity. Retail manager Simon Kingston was sponsored to wear high heels for a day. Staff would like to thank those who contributed.