SIBA South West Sponsor Guide Dog Training

Due to the way the Tuckers Maltings Beer Festival is run it generates a profit for the SIBA South West region each year. By design it is held as a showcase for all the brewers of the region, a platform to get their beers recognised and promote the quality of the brewing in the South West. It is because of this that the festival has become so successful and the model for all the other SIBA regions beer competitions and festivals.

All the brewers support the event by supplying the staff that are required to run the festival, from bar staff to doormen and table stewards for the competition itself. This time is given voluntarily together with help from CAMRA and Tuckers sponsor the festival by supplying the free use of the Victorian Malt house. A large number of the beers on offer are made using the malt produced within the maltings, showcasing the quality of the malt made.

The fact this covers all the major overheads of running the festival means the price to the punters has stayed sensible and generated a small profit each year. After 21 years of the Tuckers Maltings Beer Festival the funds raised had become quite large and the SIBA South West region was looking at options of what to do with it.

After a few suggestions the festival committee felt it would be good to give something back to the community that support our industry. The suggestion of using the festival profits to sponsor the training of a guide dog met the approval of all the members, a very worthy cause.

A cheque for £10,000 was presented to Guide Dogs for the Blind at this year’s festival (2014). Five trainers came to the maltings for the cheque presentation, accompanied by a selection of dogs that were either in training or had now been retired, for us to meet.

Paul Davey the festival chairman presents the cheque to the Guide Dogs for the Blind.

It was wonderful to see first-hand the fantastic work this charity undertake, their work is a lifeline for many blind and partially sighted people, providing them with independence and mobility that comes from having a guide dog.

The £10,000 will cover the costs to train a guide dog. The process takes around 20 months, beginning when the puppy is between 6 – 8 weeks old, during the first year volunteer puppy walkers raise the puppies. Introducing them to the world they will be living in, they are taken on buses and trains, around busy streets and shops to get them used to the sights, sounds and smells they will become a part of. They will also be taught the basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’ and taught to walk ahead on the lead, getting them used to ‘guiding’.

The dogs will then go ‘back to school’ to learn the skills required to become a fully-fledged guide dog. They are taught to walk in a straight line in the centre of the pavement, unless of course there is an obstacle in the way, not to turn corners unless they are told to, to stop at kerbs and wait for the command to cross or to turn left or right, to judge height and width so their owners don’t bump their head or shoulders and how to deal with traffic.

Finally, after finding the correct dog for its new owner, the last part of the training is for both the dog and the new owner. They are trained together, learning how to work as a team and getting to know each other. This takes about four weeks and once complete the dog will start its working life, bringing independence and mobility to a visually impaired person, improving their quality of life by giving them the freedom so many of us take for granted.

We would like to thank the puppy trainers from Guide dogs for the Blind, who came to see us, they were;

From the picture, left to right we have Roy Scott with his dog Woody, Matty Prow and her dog Rydon, June Scott with her dog PJ, Paul Davey from RCH Brewery and chairman of the festival committee, Val Lurcock with her dog Maddie, Rick Lurcock and his dog Carla and finally Richard Wheeler the director of Tuckers Maltings.

Of course a huge thank you should also go out to all the brewers, beer drinkers, suppliers and everyone else who have supported the festival over the years, leading to its success, which has allowed this money to be raised and now go on to provide support for a visually impaired person.

Links;

Guide Dogs for the Blind
SIBA South West
Tuckers Maltings Beer Festival
CAMRA

Guide Dogs for the Blind will be keeping us up to date with the progress of the guide dog puppy sponsored once it has been born.

We hope to bring you these updates as we receive them, so please keep a look out here.