‘Simply adorable’: Mayor of Northampton sponsors Tilly the guide dog

Tilly was named after the first mayor of Northampton, William Tilly.
Tilly was named after the first mayor of Northampton, William Tilly.
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The Mayor of Northampton has sponsored a guide dog puppy in training.

Mayor Christopher Malpas also got to name the new puppy after raising £5,000 for Guide Dogs for the Blind Northampton.

Tilly with mayor Chris Malpas' guide dog Verity after an exhausting play session.

Tilly with mayor Chris Malpas' guide dog Verity after an exhausting play session.

Tilly is a two-month-old labrador-golden retriever cross and was named by Councillor Malpas after the first mayor of Northampton, William Tilly.

He said: "I've met Tilly many times now. She is simply adorable and coming along very well, thanks to the dedication of her puppy trainers and others like them across Northampton."

Councillor Malpas, who is registered blind, may one day work with Tilly when she completes her training.

Fundraisers are given the chance to name a new puppy if they can raise £5,000 for Guide Dogs for the Blind. They even get to keep the puppy's birth certificate.

Tilly was named by Councillor Malpas after the mayor organised several charity events for The Mayor's Fund, including a charity auction hosted by Flog It! presenter Charles Hanson that raised £3,600.

Councillor Malpas said: "So far this year we have managed to raise £13,600 for The Mayor's Fund, and the money has already been put aside to sponsor another dog. A charity raffle at the borough council officers decided this second dog will be named Spencer, after the Northampton MP and later Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval.

"All of this fundraising has been a team effort from teams across the borough council, the Guide Dogs for the Blind and all three Northampton political parties. So many people know Verity, my current guide dog, and they've all made such a terrific effort to help fundraising. I want to say thank you to everyone who helped, and I hope we will be able to sponsor a third dog by the end of the year."

Tony Ellis, branch manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind Northampton, said: "From the very start Chris has been a leading light in the branch. He is a terrific motivator and is totally committed to what he does. Nearly all of the money he has raised will go towards training his sponsored puppies.

"We've achieved so much this year as a branch, and a huge part of that is because of Chris' tireless work. We've raised more than £50,000 this year as a branch, but we've also raised awareness in Northampton over how to approach and respect guide dogs in the street. Thank you to everyone in Northampton for their support."

It is estimated a guide dog will need £56,500 during their lifetime of service for food, health checks and training, as well as ensuring they have a safe, comfortable retirement.

Tilly is now in puppy training and gets regular visits from the mayor at her home in Little Billing, where she is cared for by John and Janice Woodroof.

John, who has already helped train two dogs, said: "Tilly is doing quite well so far. She's a typical puppy in everything she does of course, and she sleeps a lot, but there are all the signs she will hopefully be a fine guide dog one day.

"The work Chris has done for Guide Dogs for Northampton is exceptional. He came up with the idea of sponsoring and naming a puppy and he and his team have led an amazing fundraising drive. The auction last year was a special day."

Tilly will leave for her full training when she is about 15 months old.