A blind runner from Ceredigion has devoted herself to raising money for Guide Dogs Cymru.

Louise Jenkins from Lampeter has challenged herself to complete four running events this year in the hope of raising £2,500 for the charity that restored her independence by matching her with guide dog Sian, a two-year-old Labrador retriever.

Her most recent challenge – the third of the four – was the Ogi Porthcawl 10k on Sunday, 2 July, to raise money for Guide Dogs Cymru.

Louise described the event, which takes in the town’s famous funfair, lighthouse and promenade, as one of her toughest yet.

The 57-year-old, who works as a housing officer at Ceredigion County Council, said: “I had been without a guide dog for nearly three years and found it a struggle to get out and about independently. I even lost the confidence to go running.

“It’s so different now I have my new dog, Sian. She’s only been in my life for four months and we have done so much already.

“I never thought I’d get so much pleasure from just being able to travel to work on a bus, or walk and get shopping whenever I need something.

“Sian knows when I feel sad or I’m missing my husband Adrian, who is in a nursing home. She comes and puts her head on my knee or makes me laugh by hiding my shoes. She certainly is my life changer.”

Louise, whose sight was permanently damaged 20 years ago by a spinal cord infection causing blindness in one eye and tunnel vision in the other, conquered the Porthcawl course in one hour and four minutes with the help of guide runner Mel Gaul, who was attached to her via a wristband.

Louise Jenkins (left) and Mel Gaul in action in a previous race
Louise Jenkins (left) and Mel Gaul in action in a previous race (Picture supplied)

“Mel did a fantastic job of guiding me as usual,” said Louise.

“She gives me verbal warnings as we approach potholes, speed bumps or tramlines.

“This was one of the toughest runs I’ve done, narrow and winding in places and very busy. My guide dog, Sian, had a well-earned day off at the beach.

“My previous guide dog, Trinity, is enjoying her retirement, and I’m hoping to raise enough to name a guide dog puppy after her to thank her for keeping me safe all those years.”

The fund received an extra boost when Louise pledged to donate £1 for every minute it took her to complete the course in honour of her friend Joanna Grundy, who was celebrating a birthday. Joanna immediately matched it with a £64 donation of her own, adding: “Louise and Guide Dogs deserve it”.

Louise will complete her quartet of races for 2023 with the Barry Island 10k on 6 August. You can show your support by visiting ‘Louise Jenkins is fundraising for Guide Dogs’ on justgiving.com.

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