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Walk to help Emily take a step forward

Emily Shilton
Emily Shilton

Staff from Bispham Endowed school enlisted the help of all their puppy power to raise money to help a disabled pupil walk.

Teachers and support staff walked from Bispham to Cleveleys and back to raise money for 10-year-old Emily Shilton, from Bispham, who has cerebral palsy.

Emily Shilton and the dog walkers

Emily Shilton and the dog walkers

They want to raise £20,000 to pay for physiotherapy they hope will help Emily achieve her dream of walking.

Teacher Victoria Houston, 42, who is in charge of the school therapy dog association said they were delighted to raise £700.

“Our school therapy dog Arnold, a cross-breed, is used to help with reading initiatives, fundraising, emotional support and general well being of the children.

“We have seven dogs throughout Blackpool who are being trained as therapy dogs by KRRS dog training.

Victoria Houston and Arnold

Victoria Houston and Arnold

“The dogs are all different breeds and are taught to do things like nudge books to encourage children to read.

“Some of these dogs were on the walk and the others were made up of staff members’ dogs - Arnie’s dog pack.

“Arnie’s dog pack is made up of teachers support staff dogs.

“We all pulled together our puppy power to fundraise for Emily and we will be doing it for other children like her too.

“Emily has had two major operations in the last 18 months and is in a lot of pain.

“The NHS has provided support but Emily needs a great deal of physio.

“Arnold is not a willing walker and had to have behavioural therapy himself so we were proud of him and delighted to raise £700.”

Victoria said she hopes other schools will find a way forward to using therapy dogs through her website www.therapydogs.com.

She said: “We are here to help other schools implement this fantastic programme.

“It has to be done properly and is not for the faint-hearted.

“Having a therapy dog is a big commitment and it is important they get it right for all concerned especially the dog.”