Wiltshire Police in tandem with blind employee to raise money for new guide dog

Wiltshire Police is backing one of its call handlers who is registered blind and about to take on the challenge of a lifetime cycling in tandem 250 miles from Land’s End to Bradford-on-Avon.

Anthony Bristowe, from Bradford-on-Avon, works in the Crime & Communications Centre in Devizes on the 101 central call handling team, accompanied by his black Labrador guide dog Nimmo.

Prior to joining Wiltshire Police three years ago, Anthony ran his own catering business in Bath for many years before his sight began to diminish. Nimmo is now reaching retirement, so Anthony wanted to show his appreciation for the tremendous support he has received over the years from the Guide Dogs charity.

“Finding Nimmo has made all the difference to my life. As my sight has diminished he has enabled me to get out and about independently and with confidence,” said Anthony.

“It costs Guide Dogs £42,300 to breed and train every single dog. That’s a huge amount of money and I wanted to give something back.”

Anthony and his cycling partner Simon Taylor from Warminster discovered their mutual love of cycling when they met at a local choir in Bradford-on-Avon. Their cycling marathon starts on Monday 16 October with a route mapped out along quiet country lanes in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire. After six days they are due to arrive in Bradford-on-Avon on Saturday 21 October for a welcome reception at 4pm hosted by riverside pub restaurant Timbrell’s Yard.

The tandem team will be joined by friends and some of Anthony’s police staff colleagues – including Chief Constable Mike Veale – to cycle the last 40 mile leg of the journey.

Anthony and Simon have set up a Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/findingnimmo for anyone wishing to give a donation to help reach their £5,000 target they hope to raise for Guide Dogs.

Software communications supplier APD Communications, who supply command and control software to Wiltshire Police to enable its 999 control centre operators to communicate effectively, are also supporting Anthony’s cause by sponsoring the branded cycle tops for the outriders on the last leg of the ride. APD have also made a £500 donation to the cause.

APD Managing Director Mike Isherwood said: “We were really impressed when we heard about Anthony’s fundraising cycle ride and instinctively wanted to support him. Wiltshire Police is one of our long-standing customers and this sponsorship is a continuation of our excellent working relationship. Good luck to Anthony, Simon and the whole team!”

Guide Dogs relies on donations from the public to run its services, with less than 1 per cent of its income from government funding. Every hour someone in the UK starts to lose their sight and nearly two million people in the UK live with a sight loss that has a significant impact on their daily lives. The charity works to give people with sight loss like Anthony the confidence and skills they need to live the life they choose.