Free Falling

It’s that time of year where i think about what charity event i want to do. I usually like to only ask for one event a year where i ask for sponsorship as i feel that people are reluctant to sponsor multiple events.

The past two years i have done the 8 mile walk that is part of the Belfast Marathon. I kind of fancied something different this year and i’ve kind of been and done the marathon walk twice now. I have done the walk with Ushi both times, but i am not sure how long she would want to walk that far. She is still fit and working well, but baring in mind her age, i’m not sure if she would do another 8 miles in one go.

I’ve decided that on the 20th March 2016, i shall be abseiling off the Europa hotel in Belfast. I will be doing it for
Angel Eyes NI
Along with a couple of others. We are all doing it for Angel Eyes NI. A company called
The Belfast activity centre
Will be the ones supervising the abseil and providing the equipment needed and such. I have done things like artifficial caving which was great craic, so i know the activity centre will have us in safe hands.

So, if anyone would like to sponsor me, you can
Visit my just giving page
Or text The code “EUAB69” followed by a space and your amount to 70070. You can donate anything from £1 up to £10 on the Just text gicing.

Thank you in advance for your support. I’m wondering what i am letting myself in for 🙂

The Angel Eyes NI Glitter Ball

I’m not long in from a fantastic night.

Back in December, Angel Eyes NI set up a fundraising committee to help with funding the charity. One of the ideas we had thought of was to have a ball. Little did we know, we’d have it organised in just 2 months. Tonight was the night.

Tickets had to be purchased in advance, so a just giving page was set up. Tickets were £40 each, but that included a 3 course meal, plus entertainment and a disco.

It was to be held in the Stormont Pavillian, so everyone was looking fancy.

At about 7 o’clock, people started to arrive. We had a presecko reception, or orange juice for those of us who weren’t drinking. The room was decorated in Angel Eyes colours which are Blue and white.  A lady from a company called The Balloon yard made balloons in the shape of the letters from Angel Eyes.  There were also two big araches made out of balloons. All the seats were covered in blue seat covers and the tables were covered in blue table cloths. There were also centre pieces on the tables with blue streams of paper and lights. Some of the balloons had lights in them too i think.

Around 8 o’clock, we were all seated at our respective tables. Each guest was presented with a scrole with the mission and vision of Angel eyes, plus an Angel Eyes pin badge attached. The chair of Angel Eyes then got up to say a few words, along with another board member. After the speeches, the food was served.

We had vegetable soup for starters, followed by a main of Bief Briskit, with all the trimmings. Dessert was Eatin mess with ice cream. The whole meal was gorgious.

During the meal, raffle tickets were being sold, as there were some great raffle prizes which had been donated.

Between the main and dessert, there was a magician, along with Andrea Begley and a lady called Rosaleen Dempsey who sang for us. They were accompanied by the campaignes officer from the RNIB on guitar. They were all fantastic.

After the dessert, there was a coin toss compitition going on. Two bottles of alcohol were donated, and you had to ttthrow pound coins at it and whoevers was closest to the bottles won them. They had three minutes to do it in. To make it more fun, people taking part in the compitition had to wear simulation specs, which simulate different visual impairments.

Next up was an auction. 4 of the raffle prizes seemed too big to have as raffle prizes, so they were auctioned off. These were things like an overnight stay in the Salty Dog in Bangor, a fourball game of golf, a thing were you can go and get your colour chosen for your particular skin tone and such, and something else which i’ve forgotten.

It was the raffle next, which again, had some wonderful prizes, such as a multi cooker, a coupllle of ssssports watches, bottles of alcohol, vouchers, and many many more lovely things. I won a voucher for £25 for Marks and Spencers, which was pretty cool considdering i hardly win anything in a raffle lol.

As well as all that excitement, there was a photobooth going on where people could go and get their photo taken.

By the time the disco started, it was going on half 11, so i left then. I’m not even sure what time that finished at.

I would like to thank everyone who came along, and i can deffinetly see this becoming an anual event. Such a brilliant night with great craic and great company.

The only bad thing was Ushi’s paw getting stood on but apart from that, it was brilliant. It was great to see it all come together.

Fantastic work for a fantastic cause :).

Angel Eyes NI Glitter Ball

My blog has been very quiet lately, but i am posting this entry on behalf of
Angel Eyes NI
Please do share this far and wide, and if you’re local, please do come along if you can. I had forgotten that there would be a meal provided too, so all in all, it should hopefully be a cracking event.

I have copied the flyer below. Please pass this on to everyone you know in the area.

Thank you!

Glitter Ball -7 March 2015
Stormont Pavilion, Belfast BT4 3TA
Dress Code – Black Tie
Events starts at 7pm with
Prosecco Reception
followed by
3 Course Meal
including choice of red or white wine
Vegetable soup
Brisket of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding
Eton Mess

After Dinner Entertainment
Disco until 1am

To book your ticket, make a donation of £40 per ticket- please do not tick Giftaid, but please do leave your email details
using the link–

The Antrim Show 2012

Today we were at the Antrim Agrecultural show again.

We weren’t really sure what way we were going to work it since two of our guide dog owners couldn’t make it. I said i was willing to do all day if it was necessary. (Here in the UK we are only allowed to have our dogs fundraising for two hours at a time).

I was up in Derry on Fridday for a volunteering event and street collection. I asked if the derry branch organiser would come up to help, but told him not to worry if he couldn’t. He agreed straight away and said that as long as someone could meet him off the train, he would come no problem.

So this morning, my rehab worker collected the guide dog owner at Ballymena train station and we then headed up to the show. My rehab worker was taking his kids up too, so we had a full car.

When we got there the two dogs got very excited as there was a pen full of little beegle pups that kids could pet. Of course the dogs wanted to play!

I decided to bring two bottles of water, since there were two guide dogs. They didn’t even last 5 minutes! Inis, who was the other guide dog drank the second bottle. Ushi wanted to drink out of the bowl any time Inis did because it was her bowl. Luckily there was plenty of water available during the day.

A woman and her husband came to help us with their dog Bradey. Bradey is a retriever. The woman works at
Legal island
Who we received a presentation from for £220 back in March I think. They want to become full time volunteers which is great. The husband has a background in sales and knows people from Antrim counscil. So he was wonderful at promoting our
Go walkies
Event which i’ll post about another day. I think they will be a great help to the branch, and it means we have some volunteers from Antrim, which we didn’t have before.

I was expecting the dogs to get restless since they hadn’t done a whole day before, but they were grand and just fell asleep. Ushi did have a full flood when we took her to pee at one point lol. But that was because she was being greedy with her water! At one point the branch organiser litterally had to hold her bowl up for her since she couldn’t be bothered moving to get a drink.

It was much quieter than last year but that could have been because there were some nasty showers about. Still we raised £301. It’s down from last year, but only by £49, and it was £301 we wouldn’t have had at the start of the day.

I’m so glad we were able to work the show. Normally we would have been covered for dogs, but the other two owners were on holiday. I would like to than the Derry branch organiser for coming up from Derry. The craic was great all day.

RNIBS Response

I’m just back from a volunteer event in Derry so this will be quick. I got this post from RNIB today. I don’t know what to make of it!

Dear Torie,

Thank you for your email to Royal National Institute of Blind People
(RNIB). I am sorry for the delay in replying to you.

RNIB’s ‘Help Emma’ advert was a fundraising appeal explaining the vital
work of RNIB in supporting blind and partially sighted people across the
UK. It tells the story of nine-year old Emma, her experience of sight
loss, and the support she received from RNIB, particularly through the
talking books programme. We were inspired to develop the advert after
receiving a heartfelt letter from a young girl thanking RNIB for the
support that she’d received.

We felt this was a wonderful opportunity to tell a real-life story of
one young girl and her family. We do, however, take very seriously our
responsibility to reflect the many and varied experiences and life
situations of people who are blind or partially sighted. Therefore,
across all our RNIB communications we show a wide range of individuals
and illustrate many different aspects of people’s lives, including the
challenges and achievements.

Blind and partially sighted people are central to our work. Sight loss
can occur at any age and every individual’s experiences will be
different. Although some people cope, and indeed may cope well, with
sudden sight loss, others find it a very traumatic experience and need
support from organisations such as RNIB. Whilst people may have
different experiences throughout their life, our ambition, as we know it
is yours, is that each person who is blind or partially sighted has the
same opportunities as anybody else. Our commitment to this goal remains

Blind and partially sighted people are central to our work and helped
shape this advert. However we are very keen to receive feedback on this
and all of our films which depict the many different experiences of
sight loss in order to increase the public’s understanding. We are
grateful for the engagement and feedback that the video has provoked,
and, moving forward, will use your constructive feedback in the spirit
in which it was given.

We very much appreciate the time you have take to share your thoughts,
thank you.

If you have any further queries, or would like to know more about our
work and how you could help support us, please do not hesitate to
contact our Fundraising Support and Enquiries Team on 0845 345 0054
(Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or email

Kind regards
David Ireland
Fundraising Support and Enquiries Team
RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People)


An Invasion Of Guide Dogs!

A couple of months ago, I was in
And i just happened to have Ushi with me. We got talking, and the staff in our local store really liked Ushi. The next time i was in one woman in particular, (I’ll call her E) asked if i would come in and do a talk or something with Ushi. I said i would be happy to and told them to ask the branch organiser of our branch.

It wasn’t long before a date was set, and we were invited by E to have an information table on Saturday the 16th June. We weren’t allowed to sell any stock, but we were allowed to sell little guide dog pins as it said on the box that you could make a suggested donation of a pound to have one. I orriginally thought it would be for the whole day but we were only there from 1 o’clock until 3.

So yesterday me, Ushi and the branch organiser arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed.

All the staff had to come over and give Ushi some love. E in particular would have spent all day there if there were no customers.

About half way through there just happened to be a crowd of about 20 guide dogs in the centre. They all had come down from belfast to shop and for a meal. Thankfully they all didn’t come into the shop as that could have been interesting! About four dogs and their owners did come in though. One lady recognised me from the Talking busses pilot we attended last year. The dogs who did visit us were called Truffle, Keeta, Dylan and Eric. Ushi and the dogs all had a little roll around the floor and Ushi wanted to follow them out of the shop.

We raised £49 out of selling pins, and tomorrow i am going to the mother and toddler group that E runs in Waterstones. Plus we have been invited back to sell our range of stationery!

It was a brilliant day and i think it is a good opportunity possibly for fundraising and even some volunteers in the future. Thanks for having me! I’ll let you know how the mother and toddler group goes.

Tescos Collection

Yesterday and today i was collecting for guide dogs at our local Tescos store. We were meant to get a slot collecting last year but we didn’t get in on time, but the option this year was to do a bag pack or a collection. We chose the collection as we wouldn’t have enough volunteers for a bag pack, and i don’t know how a guide dog owner would pack bags and hold a dog and a collecting box. I think other branches can do it though.

There was a bit of a palava at the last fundraising meeting which was on Wednesday. I’ll not go into too much detail, but i have written about a woman who happens to be the treasurer before. Well they got very bitchy towards the branch organiser. They said that basically in the minutes each sentence didn’t have to start with the branch organiser’s name. (Yes it does, she is the branch organiser!). The branch organiser told us that we were collecting from 10 in the morning to 9 at night. We could then decide which times suited us. (More complaints about how the branch organiser was doing too much from the person).

There was much more than that but i don’t want to discuss it here. Let’s just say things got rather heated. None of us thought this was fair, and we thought it was very childish. It seemed to be totally just ganging up on the branch organiser. So needless to say we left feeling very angry at the amount of silly bitching that was going on.

Out of interest, how practical would it be for a totally blind person to run a branch? I’m not saying I will, but god knows what way things will turn out. If things continued, i would hate for our branch to fall apart. I’d like some experiences and advice on that just out of curiosity for the moment.

On to the collection itself…

Yesterday morning, I decided to do the 10 to 12 shift in the morning. We can only fundraise for two hours at a time with our dogs. It was quite busy for the time of day, and we got lots of interest. Unfortunately the weather was quite chilly for June. I was glad we were under a sort of porch part at the entrance. I did have a slightly odd experience though.

There was this random woman who came up to me and started hugging me and patting my back. I thought it was someone who knew me and they were just being friendly. The patting continued, and then she said something like “I know what it’s like for people suffering. God bless you”. I thought it was very very weird. It wasn’t just normal light pats either, it was like you would pat a baby if it had wind.

In the afternoon i decided to come down again as one of the volunteers had to leave early, and the branch organiser was on her own. I didn’t bring Ushi though as she can only work two hours at a time, and usually the once is enough for her.

We raised £727 yesterday.

Today i only did my shift which was in the morning again. Ushi was with me again and had a ball as usual. She has got the sad longing look down to a fine art now as there was a guy walking past us, but Ushi followed him with her eyes until he came in lol. There was a person who was chatting away and said to me when she finished that she was going shopping and would i like a bar of chocolate or a drink. I politely declined but thanked her for the kind offer. About half an hour later she came out with a big bar of Erro and told me to share it with my friend. I thanked her alot. I thought that was really kind.

I was amazed at how generous people were. Especially with times being hard for all charities. Some people put £10 in at a time! I think it was deffinetly a good idea that we did the two days. We raised over £1200 over the two days! So for this year we have raised over £5000! This has been since January! We’ve still got plenty more events to go.

Well done to everyone involved! I just hope by the next meeting things will be quieter in the branch and we can all behave like adults. Let’s hope that the year continues to go well money wise.

*Total raised was £15637*

Carniny Christmas Fair

Tonight, me, the branch organiser, the treasurer and another branch member went to
Carniny Primary School
In Ballymena. It was a big christmas fair thing. There were lots of stalls and i think there were some other charities but i’m not sure what they were or if all the other stalls were just for people to buy things off and it maybe go to the school or something.

I thought we would all be in a hall, and was wondering how crowded that was going to be but thankfully we were in classrooms which was good. When we came in we had two or three boys directing us to where we needed to go lol.

I was sitting just behind the door so people would see us i suppose. One of the teachers was dressed up as an elf and ushi found this quite fascinating. She wanted to take his hat!

There was quite a crowd of people who came in to buy things or just to look at the dog. From little kids to parents to teachers to other stall holders. Ushi was fascinated by everything and just sat there looking up and down the corridor. At one point she lay right in the doorway of the classroom! I presume that was so that people would notice her lol.

We eventually moved in a bit as people were having to step over her and other people couldn’t get in to look at the other stalls. She still tried to get nearer the door.

At one point she had about three or four kids around her all calling her name and asking for her paw. She gave it to them which i was surprised about. She normally gets bored of it!

One kid couldn’t understand how ushi could be so big for being two. (My little 8 year old brother had this problem too lol). I explained that you get big and small dogs just like you get some tall people and some small people. He was just like oh right.

I was amazed at how generous the kids were being. They litterally came and put any change into the donation box without being asked to. There was even one kid who sponsored a puppy and then another who baught something and litterally put all her change into the box. This was little kids too. I was so shocked. I’m sure alot of adults wouldn’t be so generous.

I could tell by the end (we were there for three hours with a constant stream of people) that Ushi was getting tired because it was a bit of an effort to get her out of her down position to say Hi to everyone. She still managed it though.

Ushi even managed to see Santa (my rehab worker has a son who goes to the school so he was dressed up as Santa). Ushi went mad to see him and was wagging furiously! When i let her say hi she didn’t want to though!

She hasn’t moved from her bed since we got home lol. Talking of beds, i’ve decided to make Ushi a new cover for her bed. The one she has the cover can come off but the main bed can’t be washed. I’m using a pair of old jeans so hope she finds it comfortable!

It was a good night and one kid even came up to me at the end and handed me a little cone of sweets and a chocolate lolly!

That is all the fundraising events for the year. We are heading out for a meal on Tuesday though so that should be good. I’m not bringing Ushi though as the time of year it is probably wouldn’t be the best for her as it would be incredibly busy. So she can chill while i stuff myself!

I’ve also got a couple of posts to do next week that i haven’t got around to writing yet lol.

Have a good weekend!

This Time Last Year…Photo

This time last year,
Was mine and Ushi’s
First photo opportunity. It was with our local papers. My rehab worker wanted to show a newly qualified team with a more experienced team (and there is only one other guide dog owner in Ballymena since my friend hadn’t been matched yet).

I was a bit nervous about having Ushi’s photo taken since we can’t officially fundraise until we are at least 6 months qualified. This is so that you can get used to each other as a team. I got so many compliments that day though about her coat and such. I always just smile and say thanks.

I never actually got the photo as it was a scanned picture.

I also spent my first time in a coffee shop with ushi and she was grand.

I had came to the fundraising meetings after that but my first fundraising event wasn’t until March I think. I can’t remember what it was though. I’ve just had a quick look, and my first fundraiser was in April, and it was a
Jollyes Collection
I was a bit nervous then, but now i’ve done plenty of events. The only event i won’t do is street collections as i feel that they can be a bit too much, and i would rather be sitting rather than standing. Plus i feel that if you are doing a street collection, people don’t get the same opportunity to ask you questions i feel and it is constantly busy. Maybe someday i will collect though.

Today was a great working day. We had a little spring in our steps!

I’ve got aftercare on Monday so i’ll let you know how that goes. I’m not having any issues so i’m just going to do a regular route. (I’m not going to learn any new routes though because i don’t think there would be much point to start a new route for us not to be able to do it because of the weather. So i’m just going to leave it until the spring and just stick to our regular boring routes. I’ll let you know how Monday goes.

The Ballymena Show 2011

Today was the 2011
Ballymena show
This is an event every year where cattle are shown, but not sold. There are lots of farming things that happen, like tractors on display as well as show jumping and such. It is meant to be the second largest agricultural show in Northern Ireland, next to
Balmoral Show
In Belfast, but I don’t think it’s that good lol. (When you click on the link for the Ballymena show, there is a vidio of a person talking, but you should still be able to read each page).

This year Guide dogs had managed to get a stand at the show, so today I was going to be doing the 11 o’clock to 1 shift. Luckily enough, we had a big Gizeebo type thing which I mentioned briefly in
My last entry

So we were picked up by the treasurer of our fundraising branch. She drove us to the gate nearer our stand, whilst me, her son and another volunteer went in. (We had been given passes to enter the show for free because we were a charity i think). Again, getting out of the car I put Ushi’s halty on. This really seems to cut down on her pulling. I took it off as soon as we got to where we were going to be though.

Almost as soon as we got to where we were, we started to get people. Well I think they were from before we arrived.

We mostly had kids coming into see us, but there were a few adults. We were saying about how it costs £50,000 to support a guide dog throughout its working life right from it’s a puppy. One dude was that shocked that he got money out immediatly. We weren’t really intending to make him feel guilty or anything, but I think people should know how much it does cost for a guide dog, considering the organisation doesn’t get any government funding.

My friend came at about half 12, with her dog Della. They had a little play around, but then we had one on one side of my friend and Della on the other. They just sniffed after that.

We were just gabbing away when my friend told me about something called a
I have heard of this product, but is it good? Can it be used with a zoom groom? It would be interesting to see one.

We finished shortly after that.

Unfortunately the Gizeebo was set up on concrete, so the rain kind of kept coming in. Ushi’s belly was kind of dirty then lol. She didn’t know what to make of the sheep though! Every time she heard one (they were behind us), she looked round as if to say “what’s that?”. The same as when a little girl blew bubbles in front of her lol.

It was a good day, and thank you again to the branch organiser for making it such good craic.