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Deborah Cornwall is an inspiration to us all

We would like to wish Deborah Cornwall and her Assistance Dog, Dillon, a huge congratulations on passing their final assessment and Dillon is now a fully qualified Assistance Dog. Deborah said: "To all the welcoming shop owners and workers and everyone we meet in Formby, I am delighted to be able to tell you that Dillon and I passed our final assessment and he is now a fully qualified Assistance Dog with the charity Dog Aid. I couldn't have trained him without your help allowing us in the shops, so a huge Thank You to everyone. A special thanks to Derbyshire's and Cassidy's staff who keep a collection tub for our charity; much appreciated."

Deborah Cornwall’s life changed completely 35 years ago, when she suffered a horrendous spinal injury after falling when climbing which left her confined to a wheelchair. She tells the Bubble how life still goes on after such a traumatic ordeal and how her first dog Basil helped boost her confidence to tackle anything in life.

Deborah had always been a sports crazy and active young woman who loved all kinds of physical activity. So when Deborah plummeted 40ft from a rock while climbing in North Wales and sustained a spinal injury which left her with no movement below her armpits, adapting to living life in a wheelchair was a huge step for her to take.

Deborah spoke to the Bubble and told her story...

"It was 35 years ago that I sustained a spinal injury resulting in me having no movement from the chest down and having to use a wheelchair. Although I went back to work, teaching Primary School children, for 23 years I found it difficult and retired early."

"It was then that I heard about Dog AID (Assistance In Disability) a charity which provides clients with volunteer trainers who teach the clients the skills to be able to train their pet dogs to Assistance Level. I trained my first dog Basil with Dog AID but sadly he died aged 6 1/2 and it was then that I got Dillon, a miniature labradoodle, aged 8 weeks. Having had a fully qualified Assistance Dog who understood commands and helped me physically and emotionally, I was starting from scratch again!"

"Slowly but surely, I applied the skills and techniques I have as a trainer to help Dillon learn how to help. The time it takes to train the dog depends upon the intelligence of the dog, the time you devote and the way in which you make all the learning fun. Our dogs need a lot of down time too; play, socialising, sniffing, games. It helps if your special friend likes treats too."

"Dillon is now 20 months old and fully qualified. He helps with practical tasks like getting my medical purse from the cupboard, undressing me, bringing the phone, picking up dropped items, opening and closing doors, and so much more. All this gives me more independence ensuring I'm safe when I'm out knowing Dillon can help me. As well as physical tasks, he also helps me emotionally, giving me confidence. I spread the word of our fabulous charity by giving talks and Dillon demonstrates some of his tasks. Come and meet Dillon and me in Formby library on the 13th June."

Formby Library has a monthly talk and in June, the talk is 'Assistance Dogs'. A spokesperson from Formby Library said: "Meet Deborah Cornwall and her assistance dog Dillon. This is an opportunity to see for yourself how clever Assistance Dogs are and how they give their humans greater independence. Dillon, a miniature labradoodle, and Deborah will take you on a journey from 8 week old puppy to fully qualified partner; demonstrating some of the many tasks he does to make everyday life easier."

In lieu of a fee at the end of the talk Deborah will ask for donations to Dog AID (Assistance In Disability), the charity through which she and Dillon were trained. The talk is on Tuesday 13th June at 2pm. Everyone welcome!

Well done Deborah and Dillon!

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