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Pennine trek raises money for guide dogs

[Thursday 17 May 2007]
travis trek
Scott and Travis on their Pennine trek

BIG-HEARTED Rangers legend Arthur Numan is to have a guide dog puppy named after him to thank him for his support of a fundraiser currently trekking through parts of the Yorkshire Dales on an amazing walk.

Scott Cunningham, 35, from Larkhall, will present the former Dutch international with a picture of the prized pooch on Tuesday. The blind man and his record-breaking dog Travis are tackling all 268 miles of The Pennine Way - over recent days the pair have made their way along stretches of the famous route through the dales.

This latest challenge comes after they trekked together all over Scotland. Scott yesterday said: "I will be presenting Arthur Numan with a framed picture of his namesake Guide Dog pup for his amazing support with the walk last year."

The Arthur Numan Loyal Rangers Supporters Club said the footballer would be delighted to have a guide dog puppy named after him.

Secretary Iain Sinclair said: "This is a nice thought from the promoters of Travis Trek and will no doubt be appreciated by Arthur who is a very charitable and genuinely nice guy.

"It would have to be a thorough-bred though because Arthur is a world-class footballer."

Travis, who was the first guide dog to complete the famous West Highland Way, has also completed the Speyside Way and The Southern Upland Way in the Scottish Borders with his companion - it's hoped he will soon become the first guide dog to complete the Pennine Way too.

The hat trick of walks has already raised a remarkable 40,000 pounds to help breed, train and support guide dogs in the UK.

Scott hopes his super-fit dog will act as his eyes on the trail which they hope to complete in 16 days.

They were seen on their way by former cabinet minister, MP David Blunkett, who is vice president of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

And they will be accompanied along the entire route by two burly commandos from 45 Commando, based at Arbroath, who have just returned from patrols in war-torn Afghanistan.

Scott said: "We've covered all the major walks in Scotland so now have to go further afield.

"There is simply no tiring this machine. Trav is like a four-wheel drive of the road dog. It does not matter what hill we climb or how many miles we hike in a given day, he just does not tire out.

"I'm hoping to raise as much money as I can to give the organisation something for giving me my life back. But my other objective is to show people that it's not the end of the world if you lose your sight, you can do anything if you put your mind to it."

The people of Yorkshire have been absolutely magnificent during this trek

Scott Cunningham -

Scott Cunningham worked as a forklift truck driver until he completely lost his eyesight over a period of three weeks in October 1993. He was diagnosed with a rare eye condition known as Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LOHN).

LHON is a condition that usually affects males in their late teenage years or in their early twenties when no message gets passed from the eyes to the brain. Although there is no known cure, sufferers are optimistic for a breakthrough with revolutionary stem cell treatment currently being tested.

Scott added: "The people of Yorkshire have been absolutely magnificent during this trek. The generosity and friendliness by guest house owners, other trekkers or just ordinary folk in the street or in restaurants has been fantastic.

The money raised will be used to fully train and care for Guide Dog puppies that will eventually be placed with new owners helping visually-impaired people lead fuller lives.

Donations can be made online at www.travistrek.co.uk.

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