Upminster guide dog walker nominated for Maximising Impact award celebrates two decades of service
PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 June 2019
Carol-Ann Bullman sat in a classroom with her golden retriever puppy lying by her side.
They listened to a little boy read out loud to the dog. He was struggling to read out loud to his peers, so he was reading to Heather, who could provide no judgment. Still, the boy grew frustrated.
"How does she understand what I'm saying?" he asked.
The puppy got up and padded over the boy, resting her head on his knee. She whined quietly.
Carol-Ann lives in Upminster and cares for puppies like Heather, who are training to be guide dogs as a puppy walker for Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
She attended an award ceremony on Friday, June 7, after she was nominated for a 'Maximizing Impact' award for her passion and 20 years of service.
Both Carol-Ann's grandfather and uncle were blind. She remembers her grandmother at dinner, telling her grandfather where the food was by its location on a clock.
"The peas at 9 o'clock," her grandmother would say, "and the potatoes are at 6 o'clock."
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After seeing this, Carol-Ann said she remembers wanting to help those who are blind. She became a puppy walker in 1998.
Eight puppies have stayed and trained with Carol-Ann, and three have qualified to be guide dogs.
The puppy she's currently puppy walking, Harlee, just turned one.
In addition to training, she fundraises in the community and schools.
Her fundraising resume includes more than £7,000 by collecting more than 2,000 old mobile phones, £5,000 from a neighbour in memory of his father and a puppy sponsored by Tesco.
Despite working with them for sometimes nearly a year, puppies are fickle and not all of Carol-Ann's have qualified in upper training.
Her current dog, Josey, turned three last weekend and was one of those who didn't qualify. When she began upper training, the Labrador retriever mix refused to drink water out of her bowl and wouldn't get in cars.
The trainers offered Josey back to Carol-Ann, under the condition she could load the stubborn dog in her car.
But when Carol-Ann arrived and opened her door, the dog ran right in.