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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Maxol announces new charity partnership with Guide Dogs NI

Dawn Hopper with dog Micky, Brian Donaldson, CEO of the Maxol Group and Les Massey with dog Munro.  

Pictured (L-R) is Dawn Hopper with dog Micky, Brian Donaldson, CEO of the Maxol Group and Les Massey with dog Munro.  


‘He has changed my life in so many ways’ says Guide Dog user Dawn Hopper  

 

Maxol has announced Guide Dogs NI as its newly appointed charity partner in Northern Ireland.


In selecting the charity, CEO of the Maxol Group, Brian Donaldson explained that it wasn’t until he met and spoke to a guide dog owner that he fully appreciated the life-changing impact these highly trained and intuitive dogs can have, giving a person not only confidence but independence too. 

 

Over the course of the two-year partnership, Maxol, which is Northern Ireland’s leading family-owned forecourt and convenience retailer, aims to support the charity by increasing the awareness and impact of Guide Dogs NI’s work.



The family-owned company has also committed to funding the training of at least six assistance dogs across the island of Ireland. In total, it costs approximately £50,000 to breed, train, and care for each of these special dogs over the course of their working lives. 

 

Guide and assistance dogs play a vital role for those with visual impairment, transforming their day-to-day lives and enabling them to feel safe and take part more in their communities.  

 

Compelling case  

 

Brian Donaldson, CEO of the Maxol Group, Dawn Hopper with dog Micky and Kyla McVicar, Business Development Manager, Guide Dogs NI.  

Pictured (L-R) is Brian Donaldson, CEO of the Maxol Group, Dawn Hopper with dog Micky and Kyla McVicar, Business Development Manager, Guide Dogs NI.  


Brian Donaldson said:


“With so many charities in need of urgent funding, selecting just one to which we will commit our resources is hugely challenging. But when we looked not only at the work of Guide Dogs NI but the positive and tangible impact the charity can have on so many people’s lives - children, adults, and their families - we saw a really compelling case.



"This is an organisation with a strong and widespread community presence, much like our own business, and together with our local retailers we are looking forward to getting behind their work and ensuring Maxol makes a difference.” 

 

Maxol will leverage its retailer network of more than 240 Maxol service stations across the island of Ireland and also hopes to garner the support of communities around the country to raise much-needed funds to help transform a person’s life.   

 

Life-changing  

 

The saying ‘man’s best friend’ takes on a special meaning for those who require the assistance of a guide dog because, for them, the dog is their independence, allowing them to live life to the full.  

 


Kyla McVicar, Business Development Manager, Guide Dogs NI said:


“We are delighted to be partnering with Maxol for this very unique collaboration. Guide Dogs NI offer a range of services for adults and children affected by a vision impairment, and their families. It costs over £50,000 to support a guide dog from birth to retirement, from vet bills and training costs to food and transport. This commitment by Maxol will transform the lives of those living with a vision impairment in Northern Ireland and we are extremely excited by the opportunities in the two years ahead.” 

 

A recent study found that 47% of people with sight loss felt isolated and cut off from the people and places around them.


Doing things that most people take for granted such as going shopping, attending college or work, having a social life and travelling can present enormous challenges. The services offered and dogs trained by Guide Dogs NI offer a lifeline to people in these situations, allowing them to live their lives with a newfound sense of safety, mobility, and independence.  

 


Dawn, originally from Donegal, now lives in Co. Antrim with her husband Simon. She describes how she overcomes sight loss barriers and challenges every day. With the help of Guide Dogs NI she was matched with her first guide dog, Micky, last November.  

 

“I cannot begin to describe the overwhelming happiness felt when I got the call that I was matched with Micky. He has changed my life in so many ways. He helps me get out every day for walks, use public transport, meet up with family and friends, go shopping, go to my eye appointments and with volunteering.


"Before I lost my sight I could drive. Now, thanks to Guide Dogs NI, Micky is my new travel companion. He loves travelling with me to Donegal to see family.  He’s even been to Switzerland, Spain, France and Bristol.” 


Brian Donaldson, CEO of the Maxol Group with Dawn Hopper and dog Micky.

Pictured is Brian Donaldson, CEO of the Maxol Group with Dawn Hopper and dog Micky.


Buddy Dogs  

 

Buddy dogs are provided to children living with visual impairment to help boost their confidence, improve relationships and build a greater sense of trust. 

 

In order to be a guide dog, Guide Dogs NI dogs need to have a high standard of discipline, behaviour and health. Dogs with a health condition or who simply find it stressful in harness, for example, can’t become working guide dogs but might still make well-behaved pets and companions for children with visual impairment. 


 

Island of Ireland  

 

Every penny donated to funding a guide dog or buddy dog has the capacity to give someone the kind of life they might only dream of otherwise.  

 

This partnership will work across the island of Ireland and Maxol and its retailers are planning for a host of exciting fundraising and retail initiatives. The company has committed to supporting Guide Dogs NI and Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in Ireland with direct funding that will ensure more people will be matched with trained dogs over the coming months and years.  

 

Maxol’s six-year partnership with mental health charity, Aware, which concluded this year raised more than £600,000.  

 

 

 

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