My Guide Ambassador
1017. Shona Black
Shona Black, from Edinburgh, has been at the forefront of developing outdoor activity programmes that enhance the experience of people who are partially or blind sighted.
Diagnosed over 20 years ago with Leber’s bilateral optic neuropathy, a rare condition which gradually weakens central vision, Shona was inspired to volunteer for ‘Guide Dogs’ based on her own transformative experience of receiving a guide dog. Passionate about helping people with visual impairments to still enjoy the benefits of the outdoors, Shona developed outdoor education programmes with ‘The National Trust for Scotland’ and ‘The Conservation Scotland Volunteers’, engaging them with conservation activities including maintaining gardens at National Trust properties. She provides speeches on sight loss and promotes the ‘My Guide’ service by ‘Guide Dogs’ to partner people who are newly visually impaired with trained volunteers. Shona’s award coincides with the start of Guide Dogs Week 2018.
In a personal letter to Shona, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“By developing outdoor activities and programmes that benefit people who are blind or partially sighted, you have shared your own transformative experience of receiving a guide dog in order to help others. Your tireless work is helping ‘Guide Dogs UK’ to provide even more life-changing services to individuals with visual impairments.”
“I feel very proud and honoured to be selected for this award. I have many passions in life; Guide Dogs, the outdoors and nature feature heavily amongst them. Volunteering for ‘Guide Dogs’ has allowed me to spread the news about the campaigns Guide Dogs are involved in and the services they provide. One of my biggest achievements to date has been creating and delivering, in conjunction with a National Trust Outreach Ranger, a John Muir Discovery Award which enabled 12 My Guide volunteers and service users to achieve and be presented with their John Muir Discovery Awards. Cycling “Ride the North” on my tandem with a Guide Dog trainer and raising over £1,000 for ‘Guide Dogs’ was also an amazing achievement. Who knows what the next one will be… I’m up for the challenge.”
Pictured below: Shona with her award