guide Dogs Okehampton is currently calling out for more volunteers to get involved in fundraising work for the charity as the number of visually-impaired people grows across the UK.

The Okehampton branch has said that the charity is under pressure to train more guide dogs as more people are suffering with sight loss than ever before due to an aging population.

Charlie Lane from Okehampton Guide Dogs, said: ‘There is an increasing number of elderly people suffering with sight loss.

‘The fundraising operation at Guide Dogs Okehampton has been established by Sarah White and has had a brilliant first year — a lot of diverse activities, stalls, and shows and collection boxes — but this takes effort and while Sarah has worked hard and whilst the three working partnerships within the area come along to assist, we have yet to find any volunteers from the community who might give a bit of their time to assist.

‘But of course, everybody is after your time. So, why might you consider doing this for Okehampton? The first one is obviously access to these fantastically beautiful dogs, the second thing is you will be able to raise awareness into the fact that these chaps take £58,000 to train and it’s all found in charity. But I think the most important is seeing visually impaired people develop their confidence as they begin to develop their independence and become fulfilled.’

To train and care for the dog throughout its lifetime, Guide Dogs spends tens of thousands of pounds on each dog alone and the charity will also cover the costs of care once the dog has been partnered with a visually-impaired person, including the dog’s vet fees.

Furthermore, each guide dog is retired at the age of ten and the charity will then take the dog back into its care in order to rehome them.

The charity also offers a sighted guide service for those who may not want to own a dog or are waiting to be partnered with one.

The sighted guide service partners visually-impaired people with a trained volunteer who will visit on a regularly basis to support those with sight loss on a wide range of trips from visiting the supermarket to a day out.

Sarah White, who volunteers at Guide Dogs Okehampton, added: ‘I enjoy being able to help people and they are able to get a real benefit of having a guide dog and all the fundraising that we’re able to add will go a long way to producing one of these lifesavers.’

Guide Dogs will be hosting a tea party in April or May and will also be at the Okehampton Show this August for anyone who wishes to volunteer or find out more.

Guide Dogs was established in 1931 when two women trained the first guide dogs to support servicemen who lost their sight in World War I.