Local Guide Dog owners Tom and Breege O’Neill of Balbriggan with their Guide Dogs Sarge and Unice meet An Taoiseach Enda Kenny
On Monday 13th June The Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. officially opened Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind’s €5 million redeveloped facility at their National Headquarters and Training Centre on Model Farm Road Cork as they celebrated their 35th anniversary.
During the course of the official visit he met with CEO Padraig Mallon and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Roger Flack as well as cofounder Mr. Jim Dennehy in order to discuss ambitious plans to meet the needs of clients. He was told that despite the difficult financial situation faced by the organisation, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind are hoping to train more people in 2011 than in their history. Last year, they reached a milestone when they trained their highest number of clients to date, despite the difficult economic situation.
Mr Kenny was joined by a number of special guests, many volunteers, clients, staff and a huge number of dogs some in training and some old hands at the job of guiding a blind person or assisting a child with Autism.
The Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. said “This major redevelopment testifies to the commitment, hard work and generosity which have been the hallmark of the organisation since its foundation 35 years ago. The then Taoiseach Dr. Garrett Fitzgerald officially opened the original centre in 1981, and I am privileged to follow in the esteemed footsteps of such a remarkable public servant. The level of work undertaken by the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind each year is impressive. The impact of these services in terms of mobility and greater independence is immeasurable. I also want to pay tribute to vast number of volunteers who organise and support fund-raising activities on a nationwide basis. This new facility is exceptionally well planned and will cater for the changing needs of the vital services that support so many, and I wish you every success for the future.”
Roger Flack, Chairman of the organisation’s Board of Directors said: “The motivation behind this project was to meet the increased demand for our services here as well as enhancing the experience of our clients when they come to our headquarters in order to train. We needed bigger buildings in order to deliver these services and we believe that we have achieved that goal and that the facility and standard of care and training here is exceptional.”
During the opening Mr. Kenny unveiled a plaque outside of the new puppy block. Michael Edmonds, Breeding Supervisor who has been with the organisation for twenty eight years said of the new facility; “Our new Puppy and Breeding Block has made caring for our pups much easier. It’s a separate building from our other Kennels which maximises protection against infections and diseases in the young pup. There is a play area designed to stimulate the pup’s development and sound CD’s are also played to habituate them to different every day noises”
The €5 million redevelopment cost was part funded by statutory agencies with €910,000 received from the Dormant Accounts Fund (through the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs) and €130,000 from the Department of Health and Children. The remaining funds came from reserves: the result of bequests and legacies received over a number of years.
The redevelopment, which commenced in 2008, was aimed at improving the overall quality of the facility for clients in training as well as to increase the organisation capacity to train additional clients and dogs. The project has resulted in the doubling of the facility’s size to 3,600m² and includes 10 additional client bedrooms, additional client lounges and a computer suite and small gym. Aside from renovations to the Kennels Block, new facilities for dogs in training include a purpose built Puppy Block featuring a laboratory and whelping area, a pod-shaped Kennel including basement storage and improved outer sand run areas.
It will cost over €4 million to run the organisation this year. 80% of that money comes from voluntary fundraising and through branches as well private and corporate donations.
For more information please see www.guidedogs.ie or call 1850 506 300.
Should you wish to contact or offer to volunteer or make a donation to the local branch of guide dogs send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the p.r.o. of the branch Sonya Sands 0868689250
Without you the volunteers and fundraisers this event could not have happened. We thank you.