Guide dog trainers Eamon and Michelle McGee from Downings with Jennifer Doherty Donegal ambasador for Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, along with staff from the New To You Shop in Carndonagh
A Glengad mother and her doughty band of helpers have raised a phenomenal €10,500 for the charity Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Nuala Lynch, who hails from Culkeeny, ran the New To You shop in Carndonagh Shopping Centre during the summer, in memory of her daughter Claire, who sadly passed away in 2017.
Speaking to Inish Times, Nuala said: “Sadly, Claire passed away three years ago and it was a privilege to organise the New To You fundraiser in her memory.
"Claire was a healthy, happy child until the age of eight when her eyesight began to deteriorate. A year later she had to continue her education at St Mary's School for the Visually Impaired in Dublin, where she spent the next nine years as a weekly boarder, learning to cope with life as a person of impaired vision.
“While she was at at the school, Claire came into contact with guide dogs and, being an avid dog lover, she decided that when she was eighteen she would get herself a guide dog and the two of them would head off to explore America. Claire never did half measures.
“Unfortunately, shortly before her eighteenth birthday, Claire was diagnosed with epilepsy, which blighted the rest of her life. Within a few years her health deteriorated and she was confined to a wheelchair and robbed of all her motor skills. Claire then required 24/7 care,” said Nuala.
Nuala described Claire as a “model patient”.
She added: “Sadly, she passed away in February 2017, aged 37. She left all who loved her devastated. Coming to terms with our loss, we decided to do something to honour her life and what better legacy than to help someone achieve independence through the dogs she adored?
“The idea of a 'good as new shop' was born. In the summer of 2019 my friend and I approached the manager of the Carndonagh Shopping Centre and we were given a slot for August 2020.
“In the meantime, Covid-19 arrived and everything went into lockdown. Although restrictions eased in early summer, people were wary of being out in public. However, we decided to give things a go and opened our New To You shop with the the help of family and our intrepid band of sales ladies.
“We all encouraged the public to come into the New To You shop and even offered masks, gloves and sanitizer. Thankfully, with a lot of advertising things started to take off. Through shop sales and donations from family and friends we raised a grand total of €10,500. We understand that it costs in excess of €40,000 to train a guide dog and because of covid the dogs have to learn to social distance. We hope our contribution helps with this great work,” said Nuala.
Nuala was at pains to give acknowledge everyone who helped her with the New To You Shop.
She said: “A special word of thanks must go to everyone who worked so hard to achieve this result, Claire would be so proud of you all. Thank you," said Nuala.