Guide dog owner reunited with his nan in St Helens after 15 months apart

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to be lifted, making it possible to visit relatives in care homes and sheltered accommodation, guide dog owner, John Haill has finally been able to visit his nan in St Helens with Rena his guide dog by his side after 15 long months of not seeing her.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 10:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 10:52 am
John Haill and Rena

John, 35, from Fearnhead, Warrington has an eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity causing severe sight loss.

He has been a guide dog owner since 2012 and now has guide dog Rena a Black Labrador cross Golden Retriever who he qualified with in 2017.

Rena allows John to get out and about independently and enjoy the same freedoms as everybody else.

Sylvia Thomas with Rena

John found lockdown hard saying: “Lockdown has been rubbish to be honest, it really knocked my freedom.

"I’ve not dared risk going into town the whole time and I have missed my nan so much as I used to visit her regularly with Rena.”

John’s nan, Sylvia Thomas, 84, lives in sheltered accommodation in Newton-le-Willows due to having a stroke.

John had not been able to visit her for 15 months since the start of the pandemic, so it was wonderful for her to be reunited with her grandson again and with Rena

too, because she has always loved dogs.

John said, “It was such an emotional moment and great to see my nan after so long. My nan does not talk much now since her stroke, but she was so happy to see us.

"Rena was so excited and after greeting nan she spent a whole hour by the side of nan’s wheelchair getting stroked.”

The relaxation in restrictions have meant so much to John and now having had both of his vaccinations he is looking forward to slowly start going out again, meeting friends and having plenty more visits to his nan."

John said, “It was just so wonderful to have a brew and a catch up with nan, it made her day, and mine.”

Guide Dogs support people with sight loss to live the life they choose. To find out more about Guide Dogs visit www.guidedogs.org.uk