A PROCESSION of blind and partially-sighted people took place through Bournemouth town centre.

Bournemouth Lions Club and Guide Dogs joined forces to mark the importance of World Sight Day and were joined by the Mayor of Bournemouth, Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts.

Around 30 people came together to walk down Old Christchurch Road into the Square, with some who were blind or partially-sighted and aided by guide dogs and walking sticks, whilst others were blindfolded for the experience.

Barbara Jeremiah from Bournemouth Lions, said: “We are raising awareness of blindness because of Helen Keller, a Canadian woman who did a lot for educating people about being blind, and she encouraged the Lions to become ‘knights of the blind’.

“She said that not only should we help people that are blind, but we should inform people about it, to prevent others from becoming blind, if we can.

“Not many people know that the Lions funded the first training school for guide dogs, and we also introduced the white stick.”

The Lions Club of Bournemouth also had a stand in the Square, where they were handing out leaflets and offering diabetes tests, which for some can be the cause of their loss of sight.

Lauren Williams, community fundraiser for Guide Dogs, said: “As part of Guide Dog Week, which is running from October 6 to October 13, we came up with the idea of Walk My Way, where people can experience being in the shoes of a blind person.

She added: “From birth, the puppies have been reared, to go through special training to become a guide dog. Throughout the life of a guide dog, it will cost around £50,000 from birth through to their retirement, and we don’t receive any government funding, so it is all purely through donations.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding around being blind, such as people thinking that once you become blind, your life is over, which isn’t the case because you still go to work, have a social life and do all the normal things like getting around.”