A Darlington solicitor is in training to run the London Marathon to raise vital funds for Support Dogs, a national charity that gives "a new lease of life" to people with epilepsy, physical disabilities and children with autism.
The charity trains three main types of support dog including seizure alert dogs, disability assistance dogs and autism assistance dogs for thousands of families across the UK. It receives no support from government and relies entirely on charitable donations. It costs £12,000 to put one Support Dog through a twelve-month period of training.
Gillian Ibbotson, a Solicitor in the Private Client Department at Latimer Hinks solicitors is raising money to help people like seven-year old Elizabeth Gregor from Guisborough who is autistic and also suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. The youngster has blossomed since four year old Labrador Retriever Oyster joined the family three years ago after completing her training with Support Dogs.
Her mother Marie said: "Elizabeth has been given a new lease of life since Oyster joined our family. She used to refuse to walk anywhere and had difficulty communicating with people, now she holds on to Oyster and walks everywhere with me, including regular walks to the woods, which she loves.
"I cannot believe how much Oyster has changed Elizabeths life for the better. She started talking to Oyster and then about the dog and has now really opened up. Her communication skills have improved hugely. She loves to play with her dog and its lovely to see her laughing while playing in the garden with Oyster. It really is fantastic to see, and couldnt ever have been achieved without Support Dogs."
Gillian said: I'm pleased that I can run for Support Dogs, as it is such a fantastic charity. They're a smaller charity than some of the others, but still work nationwide.
The dogs that they train and support allow people with epilepsy and physical disabilities to live more independently. The success stories from families such as the Gregors really are an inspiration, and I am delighted to be able to help them. Training for the London Marathon has gone really well, and Im now looking forward to raising some vital funds for the charity."
To donate to Gillians Just Giving account, please visit www.justgiving.com/Gillian-Ibbotsonideally before the London Marathon, which takes place on April 21st.
For more information about Support Dogs, visit www.support-dogs.org.uk.