Family guide dogs lifeline inspires Amanda's London Marathon fundraiser

Amanda Woodford with a guide dogAmanda Woodford with a guide dog
Amanda Woodford with a guide dog
Peterborough College lecturer motivated to run ahead of 40th birthday for special cause close to her heart

Amanda Woodford, from Helptson, is taking on the challenge of the London Marathon to raise money for a charity which has provided a lifeline for blind and partially-sighted members of her Melton family.

Her mum, Janet Whapples, lost her sight before she gave birth to Amanda but Guide Dogs for the Blind provided her with a dog which helped her lead an independent life and to be able to bring up her family.

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Dad, Maurice, is also visually impaired and both of Amanda’s brothers – Jon and Michael – inherited the congenital sight loss condition from their parents.

Amanda's brother, Michael Whapples, who is a champion shooterAmanda's brother, Michael Whapples, who is a champion shooter
Amanda's brother, Michael Whapples, who is a champion shooter

Janet’s partner, David Shearer, also suffers from sight problems.

Because the family has benefited from having guide dogs, Amanda aims to raise thousands of pounds for the charity by completing the 26 miles around the capital on Sunday April 23.

She said: “Mum was born visually-impaired and as she got older, her sight deteriorated and she got her first guide dog, Uffa, when she was 20.

“By the age of 22, she had totally lost her sight.

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Amanda Woodford and her mumAmanda Woodford and her mum
Amanda Woodford and her mum

“Uffa became her eyes and meant she could go out independently and take part in all the things she loved to do.”

Since then Janet has also had guide dogs called Helga, Bill and Ivy and they have all enabled her to live an active life.

“My mother was aged 23 when she gave birth to me and she has never seen me,” said Amanda.

“She was blind but she still did the school run, took me to after-school activities and on summer holidays.

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Amanda Woodford's mum Janet and her mum's partner, DavidAmanda Woodford's mum Janet and her mum's partner, David
Amanda Woodford's mum Janet and her mum's partner, David

"I never felt like I was missing out, and that was very much thanks to her having Uffa to help her navigate.”

Janet and her partner, David, are currently without a guide dog – there is a waiting list of two years currently for a trained dog.

Mum-of-five, Amanda, a college lecturer who lives in Peterborough, is also motivated to run the marathon because she is 40 this year and also because her late grandfather, Dennis Teer, was also a runner and ran in the very first London Marathon in 1981, the year he turned 50.

There is quite a sporting tradition in the family because Amanda’s brother, Michael Whapples, is a world championship medal-winning shooter.

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Michael, who was also the first-ever blind marksman to compete against the sighted, was named Melton Times Sportsman of the Year three years ago.

Amanda’s last big training run was at the start of this month, when she completed a 50km Ultra Marathon in a very impressive 6hrs and 31mins.

Amanda knows how important her chosen charity is to so many people with two million already living with sight loss in this country and that number set to double by 2050.

She added: “I know how difficult it is for my mum and her partner to get around at present due to not having guide dogs.

“I’m hoping my story can raise awareness and funds to help Guide Dogs for the Blind in the work that they do.”

Click HERE to sponsor Amanda.