Congleton’s Brian Holloway is on a mission to raise cash for Guide Dogs
- Credit: Paul Sweeney
There has been triumph after tragedy for Congleton’s Brian Holloway
When his wife, Joan, passed away two years ago, he put his best foot forward to raise money to help people with visual impairment – literally. Brian, aged 63, who worked in medical research at Astra Zeneca at Alderley Park before retirement, spent last year undertaking various walking challenges to raise money to fund putting a guide dog through training. Brian did the 200-mile Coast-to-Coast, the UK Three Peaks challenge and the Yorkshire Three Peaks - a remarkable feat that has raised around £15,000 for charity, Guide Dogs.
He said: ‘After Joan died I started with donations in her memory. But then I thought fundraising would be good too. I have done a lot of walking. It has been a challenge but I wanted to do it.
‘I did the Three Peaks with my son-in-law, Anthony, and I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks on my own. I wanted to do it in less than 12 hours. It was 23 miles and 5,000 feet and I did it in ten and a quarter.
‘It feels good to have done it and raised the money. Friends I have met through Guide Dogs have done things too to fundraise like walks in the Isle of Man and a fun day in Bollington. Between us we have raised around £18,000. Almost £3,000 of it came from a yellow jersey signed by Bradley Wiggins that was auctioned in London.’
Brian and his late wife had been volunteer puppy walkers in the past putting dogs Quinta and Zuckie through their paces before going on to the formal training school. It was these happy memories and knowing the impact a Guide Dog can have on someone’s life that inspired him to raise money for the national charity.
He explained: ‘We had the two dogs and both of them went on to become Guide Dogs which was a proud moment for us. It was something we enjoyed doing together. Joan did everything really and I did the walking.
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‘It felt like the right thing to do in memory of my wife. I know I have raised money for the charity but Guide Dogs has also helped me through a difficult time. It has been something positive to do since I lost Joan. I think she would be very pleased to see what has happened.’
The thousands Brian raised has paid for four dogs to be placed with volunteer puppy walkers before hopefully going on to training and eventually being placed with an owner. The first, Joanie, is named after Brian’s wife and the others three are named after his grandchildren Fintan, Maeve and Sam.
Brian said: ‘It makes it more special to have that connection. The work Guide Dogs does is fantastic. They give people an independence they wouldn’t have. I have met people who have told me having a Guide Dog has completely changed their life.
‘I know that difference a dog can make to people’s lives. It really is amazing. This is the first time I have seen the dogs and it feels really great. There is an army of volunteers who give their time, too. It’s incredible.’
Brian, who now has a black Labrador Onyx who didn’t make it through to puppy training, is modest about his achievements. But friends see what he has accomplished very differently.
Jane Hill, puppy training supervisor for Guide Dogs, said: ‘I think Brian is absolutely amazing. The help he has provided us to be able to fund these dogs really is quite incredible.
‘We all hope all four make it all the way through training to be able to make a real difference to someone’s life. We can’t thank him enough.’
Remember and help change a life.
A donation to Guide Dogs in memory of a loved one will provide a lasting tribute as well as bring great comfort in knowing that your support is helping to change someone’s life.
The most popular way to do this is to open a Tribute Fund. Whether it’s a person or an animal being remembered, your support will help the charity create more life-changing partnerships. Family and friends can raise funds for and donate to the Fund whenever they want, and Guide Dogs can help commemorate the life of your loved one on special dates and anniversaries.
Many supporters use a Tribute Fund to raise the money needed to name a puppy in memory of their loved one. If you name a guide dog puppy, you’ll receive personalised updates and photos throughout the dog’s first year, and will even get to meet your special pup. For more information visit www.guidedogs.org.uk.