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Co. Armagh ‘Tail Blazers’ to hold Guide Dogs NI information event in Portadown

The Tail Blazers are a small team, but hope to expand in both numbers and in their activities

A County Armagh Guide Dog fundraising group are set to host an information event in Portadown this week to help support people with severe sight impediments.

The event is run by the Guide Dogs NI charity and hosted by the local fundraising team, the Co. Armagh Tail Blazers, and will be held on Friday, May 3.

It will take place from 7pm to 9pm in the Fergus Hall at St Mark’s Church of Ireland.

The Armagh Tail Blazers is a fundraising branch of the Guide Dogs charity; it’s based in Portadown and covers a wide area, including LurganCraigavon and Armagh City.

The event will include tea, coffee, juice, biscuits and an opportunity to meet a real guide dog. There will also be a merchandise stall, volunteering information and details for making a voluntary subscription.

The Tail Blazers group currently has six volunteers and is led by Portadown man and guide dog owner Les Massey, who is assisted by his Black Labrador Munroe. They spend their free time out and about in County Armagh’s towns and villages collecting much needed funds for the charity.

Speaking to Armagh I about the upcoming information session, Les said: “It’s not really about getting the money, it’s more about making people in the area aware that we’re there. People can just come in for a chat, have a bit of craic and find out more about the guide dogs and about what we’re doing and what we’ve planned.”

The Tail Blazers are a small team, but hope to expand in both numbers and in their activities.

Continued Les: “What we’re doing this year that we haven’t really done before are garage collections. We’re trying to get more money brought in because a guide dog itself costs £56,000. It’s a lot.

“People only see the dog but there’s more to guide dogs than just the dog. There’s white cane training and going into schools. There’s a lot that guide dogs do that people don’t realise.

“We would love to have more volunteers but what sometimes puts people off is they think they have to do it every week, but I tell them don’t worry if they can’t do it if they have family commitments.

“If you can give an hour that’d be great but we don’t push. We’re a very laid back group. It’s family first, volunteer second.”

Read more: Armagh Tail Blazers hoping to ‘spread their wings’ and welcome new guide dog volunteers

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