Blindfolded walk to St Austell for Guide Dogs UK

Mon 6th June 2016

A blindfolded charity walk along the Pentewan Trail into St Austell was organised jointly by White River Place and a local fundraiser to help raise money to train and name a guide dog for the blind.   

White River Place helped organise and manage the event, called A Walk in the Dark, on Saturday 4th June to support a fundraising campaign first launched by Claire Cooper from Charlestown.   

Claire, who suffered from visual impairment problems as a child, has already generated a fantastic £8,550 for the charity Guide Dogs UK to help fund the training of a new guide dog for a blind or visually impaired person, and she recently ran the London Marathon to raise more money for the cause.   

With the help of White River Place, Claire staged A Walk in the Dark as a blindfolded daylight trek. Groups of walkers from local organisations and businesses including Cornwall College, Santander Bank, St Austell Rugby Club Angels and St Austell Guides were sponsored to walk the four-mile Pentewan Trail to St Austell, finishing in Aylmer Square in White River Place, all whilst blindfolded so they would experience what life is like for the visually impaired.   

Claire Cooper explained: “I was diagnosed with a squint, astigmatism, double vision and given a strong prescription to rectify visual deficits when I was a child, so there is a personal story behind my fundraising campaign which has given me the drive and motivation to help others with visual impairments. My family took the decision to sponsor a guide dog, and now I’m hoping to raise enough money to fund the naming of a Guide Dog.   

“I’m hugely grateful to White River Place for supporting me to stage A Walk in the Dark in the daylight, and to the St Austell based teams from Santander, College, Guides and Rugby Club who were brave enough to take a blindfolded walk along the Pentewan Trail into St Austell, enabling them to experience what life is like for those who cannot see, whilst helping us to raise vital funds to sponsor the naming of a guide dog Kernow.”   

There are about 4,800 guide dog owners in the UK and Guide Dogs UK is responsible for around 8,000 dogs, with 1,300 guide dog pups bred every year. The charity receives no Government funding and depends on public support, with a cost of £5 a day to support each working guide dog partnership, and the lifetime cost of a guide dog reaching £50,000.   

A Walk in the Dark started from the trail near Pentewan Sands at 9am on Saturday, reaching White River Place finish line by 12pm where guide dogs and members of the Guide Dogs UK charity were waiting to congratulate them,   

Richard Hurst, Manager of White River Place, said: “Claire has already achieved a fantastic amount, having successfully run the London Marathon this spring, and thanks to her infectious energy, she smashed her initial fundraising target for Guide Dogs UK of £2,000, with the total already at over £8,500. 

 “Now we want to help her reach £12,000 to sponsor a guide dog for a visually impaired person, and are thrilled to have teamed up with Claire to organise such a fun and positive event with A Walk in the Dark to help her get over the finishing line. The sponsored walk went really well and was a wonderful event to be a part of.”   

Walkers took part in A Walk in the Dark in groups of five, with a sixth ‘sighted’ person leading them, and each group was linked together, moving at a gentle pace, with White River Place supplying marshals, a safety vehicle and a first responder on hand to take care of those involved.   

 Despite forecasts of rain, the weather was gloriously warm and sunny, and the walkers reached their destination in just under three hours.   

To make a donation to sponsor the walkers and support Claire towards her £12,000 target for Guide Dogs UK, visit Claire’s Justgiving page at   

For more information about White River Place follow the centre on Facebook at or on Twitter @Whiteriverplace  

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