Winners revealed at the Guide Dogs Annual Awards 2017
18 May 2017
Celebrating the life-changing work of the charity, Guide Dogs
All eyes were on the prize as the first award presented at the Guide Dogs Annual Awards 2017 was chosen by viewers of ITV This Morning. Presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield appeared on stage via a large screen as they opened a golden envelope in front of a celebrity audience to reveal that Louise Jenkins was the winner of the prestigious Inspirational Guide Dog Owner Award.
The award-winning live magazine show featured films of the three finalists, in the week prior to the awards ceremony, to recognise those who have made exceptional achievements or who have overcome significant challenges in the last year.
Fourteen years ago, Louise Jenkins was a busy mum with teenage daughters. Then, aged 40, her world was turned upside down after a spinal cord infection permanently damaged her sight, causing blindness in one eye and tunnel vision in the other. Louise, from Llandysul in Wales, says: “I realised no one else was going to change anything, it was up to me.”
Getting a guide dog was as life changing for Louise as her sight loss. She quickly returned to her independent and confident self. She retrained at university and now manages a drop-in centre for people with mental health needs. As well as working full-time she also provides home care for her husband and looks after her parents who also have complex health needs, travelling the 160-mile journey to their home by train.
The Guide Dogs Annual Awards ceremony took place at the Hurlingham Club in London on 17 May 2017.
Louise was presented with her award by This Morning celebrity doctors, Dr. Ranj Singh and Dr. Zoe Williams, who also hosted the awards ceremony part of the evening, and Guide Dogs’ very own superstar of the daytime show – puppy in training, labradoodle – Luna.
Guide Dogs has worked closely with This Morning over the last couple of years as the show’s viewers have followed puppies Clover and Luna on their journey to become working guide dogs.
Stars who graced the red carpet included reality star and actress Jess Impiazzi with her mum Debbie and her guide dog Kacey, TOWIE heart-throb Pete Wicks, former stars of Made in Chelsea – Lucy Watson and James Dunmore, England Olympic hockey champion Sophie Bray, Soprano Laura Wright, KISS FM DJ Pandora Christie and Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell. Further video messages of support came from Peter Andre, Natalie Pinkham, Wendi Peters, Lydia Bright and Debbie Douglas.
The Guide Dogs Annual Awards is a great way to raise vital funds and celebrate the work of the charity Guide Dogs and honour the passion and determination of everyone who makes its life-changing work possible. Among those being honoured for their amazing achievements at the award ceremony were guide dogs and their owners, My Guide partnerships - which partner a trained sighted volunteer to help someone who is blind or partially sighted achieve their goals; and many of the fantastic people and organisations that support the work of the charity. Every hour, another person in the UK loses their sight. Guide Dogs is there to make sure they don’t lose their freedom as well.
Commenting on the Guide Dogs Annual Awards 2017, Steve Vaid, Guide Dogs Acting Chief Executive, said: “It is always a highlight on the calendar when we get the chance to hear heart-warming stories and celebrate the incredible achievements of the people we support and those who help support out charity’s life-changing work. Whether it’s getting out to meet friends, fulfilling career ambitions or helping others, Guide Dogs make sure there is enough support so that no one is left out of life because of their sight loss.”