Blind Sunderland fan meets players on UK-wide tour

SAFC fan Peter Carling with his guide dog 'Willow'.
SAFC fan Peter Carling with his guide dog 'Willow'.
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PLAYERS heard first hand how a dad rediscovered his independence thanks to his guide dog after he began to lose his sight as a teenager.

Peter Carling visited SAFC’s Academy of Light with his dog Willow as part of the national Guide Dogs Four Legs Tour, with the 47-year-old dad-of-five from Pennywell chosen to complete the Wearside section.

The tour is aiming to call at 12 cities and more than 60 venues in the run-up to Guide Dogs Awareness Week, which will run from October 5 to 13.

Life-long Black Cats fan Peter, who met stars Wes Brown and Craig Gardner, said: “We had a bit of banter and they were mainly talking to Willow to start with – everyone always talks to the dog first.

“I told them about my life and people like me and they were quite interested about it.”

Defender Wes Brown said: “It’s great to be able to support a cause like Guide Dogs and all the great work that they do to support people.” Dad-of-five Peter lost his sight to the condition rentinitis pigmentosa, an inherited group of eye disorders which affect the retina.

He said: “My eyes just deteriorated from 1990 to 2000.

“It got really bad and I had to have help from my family and friends.

“I just couldn’t cope and I really hit rock bottom.

“I had long cane training with a member of the Guide Dogs and then a couple of years ago I got Willow.

“She’s just fantastic, it’s the best thing ever. It’s been life changing and my confidence has improved.

“I can go out by myself to the shops, down the town, when I couldn’t before.

“I can live my life.”