The stars came out and joined more than 450 guests at the glittering Guide Dogs Annual Awards 2014, in partnership with Microsoft.
Guide dog owner Verity Smith was presented with the headline Inspirational Guide Dog Owner Award. Verity is not only a top-level sportswoman who has competed for Britain as a dressage rider but is also an accomplished singer/songwriter and campaigner.
Classical Brit nominee Camilla Kerslake, England rugby captain Chris Robshaw, Made In Chelsea star Lucy Watson and The Only Way is Essex star Debbie Douglas were among the celebrities who were there to meet the finalists and present awards to the winners at the sparkling fundraiser.
North Yorkshire singer/songwriter, 15-year-old Billie Marten, wowed the audience with her acoustic guitar and bewitching voice, and Camilla Kerslake brought a touch of Christmas to the evening.
Top TV sports presenter Adrian Chiles, who hosted the awards, said: “These awards applaud the amazing achievements of guide dogs and their owners as well as some of the fantastic people and organisations that make Guide Dogs’ life-changing work possible. I know what a difference a guide dog can make to someone’s life and I’m delighted to be part of the annual event honouring that unique bond.”
Richard Leaman, Guide Dogs’ Chief Executive, said: “The Guide Dogs Annual Awards are a highlight of the year for us. We heard about guide dog owners who have overcome enormous personal challenges. We heard about campaigners who were not afraid to stand up and demand that things change. We heard about experts using their specialist knowledge to help people with sight loss. We met young people with the energy and creativity to make things happen.
“In my five years at Guide Dogs, I have witnessed the huge difference we have made and continue to make to the lives of people living with sight loss. Every moment of the day Guide Dogs is helping people like Verity get to where they want to be in life, and the awards evening is a truly inspiring occasion which reminds us of how life-changing our work is.”
Microsoft Services is the Platinum Sponsor of the Guide Dogs Annual Awards 2014. Nick Corrigan, Microsoft UK Services Lead, said: “The Guide Dogs Annual Awards was a truly amazing evening. We were genuinely moved and inspired by the winners’ stories, who haven’t let sight loss stop them from getting to where they want to be in life. We were honoured to be part of the awards and our involvement has again underlined our commitment to working in collaboration with Guide Dogs to empower people living we sight loss.”
The evening celebrated the life-changing work of Guide Dogs, while also raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to enable one of Britain’s best-loved charities to continue making a huge difference to those who experience visual impairment.
Follow the awards as they happened at #lifechanging and find out more about the finalists at www.guidedogs.org.uk/awards.
Inspirational Guide Dog Owner Award, in partnership with Microsoft
Guide Dog of the Year – Beyond the Call of Duty, in partnership with Specsavers
Imogen Godwin and Laila
Guide Dog of the Year – Life Changing, in partnership with Specsavers
Monica McGill and Waffle
My Guide Partnership Award, in partnership with Eukanuba
Olga Mokganya and Orrlene McMillen
Young Person’s Achievement Award, in association with Blind Children UK
Collaboration of the Year
Breaking Down Barriers
Nottingham City Transport
About Guide Dogs
Guide Dogs provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. It also campaigns passionately for the rights of those with visual impairments. Guide Dogs is working towards a society in which people who are blind or partially sighted enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else. www.guidedogs.org.uk.