Ford Ireland has renewed its partnership with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, writes Trish Whelan.
Ford has been a partner of the nationwide charity from soon after the charity was established in 1976.
At the announcement of the partnership renewal, Ciaran McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland said “Ford are hugely proud of the long-standing partnership with Irish Guide Dogs - the charity’s work is literally life-changing for the hundreds of people throughout the country who have a Guide or Assistance Dog that has been trained by Irish Guide Dogs and we are delighted to support the staff and volunteers at Irish Guide Dogs in the valuable work they do.”
At the launch of the Ford partnership renewal were two new puppies, Henry and Ford (aptly named in honour of Ford’s ongoing support of the charity). These puppies are two of the latest ‘intake’ of puppies who will be trained as Guide or Assistance Dogs by the charity. It takes a full two years of full-time training for a dog to become a Guide or Assistance Dog. They then go on to work for an average of eight years. It costs approximately €38,000 to breed, train and support a single working dog for the duration of its working life.
Padraig Mallon, CEO of Irish Guide Dogs said they are 'hugely indebted' to Ford for their continued support. "Ford will help us greatly in generating the funds we need in order to create life changing opportunities for people who are vision impaired and families of children with autism to enable them to achieve increased mobility, independence and an improved quality of life. Ford have given us the practical support we need with our fleet, our car raffle and with our marketing and it’s great that the Ford team are fully committed to the work we do!”
The most significant element of the charity’s fundraising drive, supported by Ford, is the upcoming nationwide ‘Heroes Appeal’ running from 5 to 12 April. This will see the mobilization of an army of Irish Guide Dogs volunteers who will carry out on-street collections in the following locations:
Limerick City on April 5, 6 and 7
Dublin City on April 6 and 7
Cork City on April 7 and 12
Galway City on April 7
It costs over €5 million to fund the charity on an annual basis with statutory funding only providing 15pc meaning the majority of the funding has to come from public donations. The charity provides Guide and Assistance Dogs, and full support, to clients across Ireland totally free of charge.
Ciaran McMahon is pictured above holding trainee Guide Dog 'Henry'; while Padraig Mallon holds trainee Guide Dog 'Ford'.