PREPARING a guide dog to help a blind or partially sighted person can take over two years and cost upwards of £50,000. Reporter Steven Collins went to Peopleton Village Hall where a training sessions was taking place.

Guide Dogs UK supports 'puppy walkers' throughout their time training a future guide dog.

Volunteers are paired with a mentor throughout their time training the dog, which can be over two years, and the costs – sometimes more than £50,000 per puppy – are also covered by the charity.

There is also a real sense of camaraderies between the volunteers in Worcestershire, with a Facebook group where they can share advice and stories, and also weekly training sessions with experts offering tips.

When I arrived at the hall, I was struck by the sense of calmness and the huge amount of praise and laughter – with some distractions thrown in to help the puppies learn.

Laura Miles, aged 32, who is one of the trainers, said: "Everything we do is around positive encouragement, and getting the puppies used to distractions such as noises, pedestrians and cars."

Lesley Robson, 68, who volunteers to train the puppies, said: "It’s absolutely brilliant to take a puppy with no training and then see the difference the puppy makes to the less sighted person.

“I really feel part of a community here. Now that I’ve retired, this has become my main hobby.

“Saying goodbye to the dog is the hardest part but I know the dog will go on to do great work.”

Mike Gurney, 65, who trains nine-month-old Colby, said: "It’s the first time I’ve been a puppy walker. I would say to anyone interested in volunteering, contact the charity.”

For Shaun Morris, 55, this is not his first time. He said: “Ryder is one year old and he is my 17th guide dog and he certainly won’t be my last.”

The charity is looking for puppy training volunteers. Call 01189838253 or email