Guide Dog Appeal: Life has improved since meeting Ella
A woman who lost her sight while pregnant has spoken of the freedom having a guide dog has given her.
Kathryn Stewart of Compton Road, Addiscombe, is urging people to give to the Croydon Guardian's campaign to raise money for Guide Dogs UK.
She started losing her sight while pregnant with her son Samuel, but it was not until after he was born she was diagnosed as having a benign brain tumour.
The 39-year-old, who is urging people to give to the Croydon Guardian's campaign to raise money for Guide Dogs UK, was unable to have an MRI scan while pregnant because Samuel, now seven, would not keep still, but doctors treated her with intravenous steroids prior to prognosis which unknowningly was treating the tumour.
Mrs Stewart is registered severely sight impaired and after learning to use a white cane, applied for a guide dog.
In 2011, she was given Ella- a golden Labrador that she says changed her life.
She said: "I can just go out confidently now. I have been into Croydon Christmas shopping, I would never have done that before.
"I don't know where people are, wouldn't know where the shop displays are and I would have no idea if I am leaving enough room for them, but Ella guides me round.
"I didn't use to go out in the dark- I was petrified but now I can go out on my own and come back, it is just amazing the freedom and confidence she has given me."
Mrs Stewart who used to work as Christian missionary, now volunteers for Guide Dogs UK and goes into schools to give talks about living with a visual impairment and having a guide dog.
Backing the Croydon Guardian's fundrasing campaign , she said: "Having Ella has completely changed my life because without her I would be housebound.
"Before I would go out but I wouldn't enjoy it and I would only go out when I needed to, now I can go out and enjoy it.
"Guide Dogs get no funding from the Government and without donations I wouldn't have Ella and I wouldn't have been able to go out and do things. I would love for someone else to benefit like I have."
Text FIRSTXMAS to 70020 or visit guidedogs.org.uk/firstchristmas to donate £3. Cheques should be made payable to "Guide Dogs" and sent to Croydon Guardian, Floor 10, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, SM2 5AS.
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