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Charity walk aims to raise £5000

Nicki CockburnBlind charity fundraiser Nicki Cockburn is on the ball, embarking on a walk along nearly 200 miles of canal tow paths between football clubs (between Friday, 07 September and Saturday, 22 September). The clubs share the same name as her two guide dogs – Vale and Chelsea.

Nicki’s retired guide dog is called Vale, so the journey begins in Stoke – home of Port Vale FC. She will then trek towards Stamford Bridge, London; her current four-legged companion is named Chelsea!

The goals of the foot-sore guide dog owner are to highlight the freedom and independence achieved by owning a guide dog, and to emphasise that people with sight loss have the same ambitions and abilities as their sighted counterparts. She will be accompanied by members of The Lions Club and other enthusiastic volunteers for each leg of the walk.

Through sponsorship and collections en-route, Nicki hopes to raise over £5,000 for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Vale – her retired guide dog – will give Nicki a tail wagging send off. She will then stride towards Chelsea, knowing she will be united with her current canine companion at the end of the walk.
Vale, who was her loyal companion for nearly 10 years, now shares the family home in Llandudno. The Golden Retriever is extra special to Nicki, and was awarded the title Exceptional Work Guide Dog of the Year in 2005. This was in recognition of her ability to learn three different walking routes in 10 weeks when Nicki toured Manchester and Scotland with a theatre company.

Chelsea, a black Labrador, became Nicki’s new guide dog following the retirement of Vale, in July 2006.

Nicki explains: “Like successful football clubs, a guide dog partnership is all about team work. My two dogs have been wonderful, with Vale transforming my independence and confidence, turning me from a shy teenager into a confident young woman. I wanted to do something which highlights the determination and ambitions of blind people, fundraise for Guide Dogs, and honour two special team players – Vale and Chelsea.”

Anyone wanting to sponsor Nicki should email Further details about the Vale-Chelsea walk are on her website: