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‘She’s changed my life’ - guide dog Briony helps Keith, 67, to bowl again

PUBLISHED: 15:43 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:59 17 January 2018

David Shepherd, right, who is planning a 12 hour ten pin bowling marathon to fundraise for Guide Dogs for the Blind, with Keith Gilding and his guide dog Briony at Strikes at Dereham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

David Shepherd, right, who is planning a 12 hour ten pin bowling marathon to fundraise for Guide Dogs for the Blind, with Keith Gilding and his guide dog Briony at Strikes at Dereham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Tenpin bowling can be a tricky, and frustrating, sport for many of us.

David Shepherd, right, who is planning a 12 hour ten pin bowling marathon to fundraise for Guide Dogs for the Blind, with Keith Gilding and his guide dog Briony at Strikes at Dereham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY David Shepherd, right, who is planning a 12 hour ten pin bowling marathon to fundraise for Guide Dogs for the Blind, with Keith Gilding and his guide dog Briony at Strikes at Dereham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But one Dereham man is continuing to strike out, despite having almost completely lost his sight some 16 years ago.

Keith Gilding, 67, suffers from diabetes and struggled for years using a white cane.

He now says getting a guide dog has given him back his independence.

And he is preparing to play in a 12-hour bowling marathon to raise funds for the charity which provides visually impaired people with support dogs.

Mr Gilding, who lives in the Sandy Lane area of Dereham, used to be a keen bowler before losing his eyesight.

His son, who guides him to where he needs to stand to bowl, has helped him continue playing.

Mr Gilding said: “My guide dog has changed my life. I got Briony, my Labrador golden retriever cross, just four or five weeks before Christmas. She was the best Christmas present.”

Mr Gilding, who was born in Toftwood and used to work on pig and poultry farms, added: “I had to go away and have training in Norwich for ten days.

“There was a lot to learn. When I used to have a long stick it was difficult with the swaying back and forwards.

“Since I got my dog my life’s changed. Me and Briony go out for two-and-a-half mile walks.

“She’s learned the route and she’s brilliant. If we go up steps, she’ll put both her paws on it before I step up.”

Mr Gilding lives with his wife Norma, 67, and son Andrew, 38.

Mr Gilding is looking forward to taking part in the bowling marathon, organised by David Shepherd.

The event will take place on January 27, at Strikes Bowling, in Dereham, with all proceeds going to the Guide Dogs for the Blind. There will also be a raffle and tombola.

Bowlers will compete in teams of three or four, bowling for an hour each.

Mr Shepherd, 73, who lives in Dereham, is also hoping to make a world record attempt of his own on the day. He is aiming to beat the record for the most glass bottles knocked down with a lettuce.

The unofficial record was reportedly set in 2014. It currently stands at 11 bottles, and is held by a Samuel Ruddick.

Anyone interested in taking part in the bowling marathon should call Strikes on 01362 696910.

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