With his big brown eyes and adorable face, it was always going to be love at first sight when Worden the puppy was finally unveiled to his adoring public.
And this weekend didn’t disappoint when six-month old Worden – named after Leyland’s award-winning park – was finally allowed to meet volunteers who helped raise more than £5,000 for his Guide Dog training.
Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor Linda Woollard, who launched the Guide Dogs’ Name a Puppy Campaign in Leyland last year, said: “I was absolutely thrilled to finally meet Worden in person – he is cute, clever and very friendly.
“He was in his element in the park. So many children came up to Worden to say ‘hello’ – they think he’s great too.
“The campaign is one of the proudest achievements in my time as Mayor and the people of Leyland too should be proud of their generosity.”
Worden was born in November and given his paw-fect name after the Leyland community raised £5,000 to pay for his training.
Cash was raised through the Walk for Worden sponsored walk in Worden Park, a coffee morning at HMRC Charles House, talks and presentations to a number of local groups, car boot sales and funds raised by participants competing in the gruelling Tough Mudder competition.
Now aged six months, Worden is in the expert care of puppy walker Ann, her husband Alan and new pal Trevor the cat.
Ann has reported that Worden is proving to be a great Guide Dog-in-training, taking trips to the supermarket in his stride and even having been to a pub! Worden has also ridden on a bus, visited a train station and has already mastered obedience commands ‘sit’, ‘wait’ and ‘down’.
He will enrol in official Guide Dog Training School in the winter.
Once he has finished his training, Worden will then go on to help one of the 2 million people in the UK that are living with sight loss - a figure that could be almost 4 million by 2050.
Every hour, another person in the UK goes blind. When someone loses their sight, the charity Guide Dogs is there to make sure they don’t lose their freedom as well.
Siobhan Cullen, Guide Dog Community Fundraising Development Officer, said: "It was such a special moment to see Worden meeting his sponsors.
"The support from the fundraising campaign to name a guide dog puppy in Leyland has been absolutely phenomenal; it’s so inspiring to see a community come together like Leyland have. We can’t thank everybody enough for all of their generous support.”
If you would like to find out how you could Name a Puppy, call Manchester Mobility Team on 01189 838 715 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Get regular ‘pupdates’ from Worden by following him on Facebook @leylandpuppy