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Guide Dogs Partnership

September 24, 2020

Countryfile star Adam Henson took time out of a busy day on his farm to meet buddy dog owner Evie Gormley in a new heart-warming video from charity Guide Dogs.

Sixteen-year-old Evie, from Aberdare in Mid-Glamorgan and her buddy dog, Uma, met Adam at his Cotswold Farm Park near Cheltenham to chat about sight loss and their shared love for animals.

Buddy dog Uma is a partner and friend to Evie, helping her to overcome barriers around her vision impairment. This is something that Adam has a very personal connection with, having lost his nephew Ben, who had sight loss, to cancer at a young age.

Adam said: “When my late nephew Ben lost his sight at five years old, it brought home to me the challenges facing families with a visually-impaired child. Animals had a wonderfully calming and therapeutic influence on him, dogs in particular, so I fully understand the incredible impact that Uma has had on Evie.

“It was delightful to meet them both. She’s a wonderful person and listening to her explain how Uma has given her back her confidence was inspiring.”

Evie, who has Ramos-Arroyo Syndrome, a condition which affects both her eyesight and hearing, first applied to Guide Dogs’ Buddy Dog scheme in 2016, when she was 12. She was soon matched with Uma, a black Labrador x Retriever cross.

From that moment, Uma hasn’t left the side of the aspiring young judo star, giving her the confidence to make friends and train for her goal of joining the Paralympic judo team.

Evie explained: “Before I had Uma, I didn’t talk or play much, and I didn’t have many friends. Now I have her, people come up to me to say hello and I’ve made a lot more friends.

“She also loves helping me with my training, sitting with me while I do push ups and running alongside me when we’re in the park. She’s amazing!”

Buddy Dogs is a service designed to specifically help children and young people with sight loss, by providing them with a friendly dog.

Project Manager for the Buddy Dogs service at Guide Dogs, Verity De Winton, said: “Buddy dogs are wonderful for children and young people with sight loss. They are not guide dogs, but they help to develop self-confidence, improve relationships and have a hugely positive effect on the child and family’s well-being”.

Evie added: “I don’t see myself as having a ‘condition’, I just have to do things differently to achieve my goals. Uma is always with me and has helped me so much with my confidence. I’m starting college in September and she’s helped me realise that one day, I will definitely be applying for a guide dog.”

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