A My Sighted Guide Helps Laurence In Rostrevor

Rostrevor Man Gets a My Sighted Guide To Walk In The Mournes

Rostrevor Man Gets a My Sighted Guide To Walk In The Mournes

Laurence Mallon from Rostrevor enjoys nothing more than getting out hiking in the beautiful surroundings of the Mournes. Growing up in the local area made mountain climbing a regular occurrence.

For the past 25 he has been registered blind as his sight has slowly been deteriorating. He found himself relying on his wife to assist him when he needed to leave the house.

He credits the My Sighted Guide service from Guide Dogs Northern Ireland as the impetus for gaining back some of his independence. He said: “It’s good exercise and it’s great for your mind. When you’re walking up a mountain it gives you energy back and it’s great to get out of the house”

Laurence from Rostrevor, who is registered blind, gets out for guided walks with Phyl in KIlbroney Park.

Laurence was introduced to Phyl Francis six years ago as a My Sighted Guide volunteer. Phyl first got involved after she retired. She said: “The opportunity to do a little bit of good towards something and to help out appealed to me when I had more time on my hands. I get so much enjoyment from Laurence and I know he thoroughly enjoys it. We walk up the mountains most Thursdays and he knows them better than I do.”

My Sighted Guide is a service offered by Guide Dogs NI that allows volunteers to become sighted guides. Training is provided and each volunteer learns to safely guide someone with sight loss, navigating environments and building self-confidence – all whilst increasing social interaction with those who may not otherwise wish to leave their home.

Phyl is keen to stress that it’s not just for hillwalkers either adding: “It’s an hour or two a week and whoever you’re partnered up with you can arrange what day, time and activity suits and it’s only a short time out of your full week”

“I was quite surprised by the initial training. I thought you’d rock up and they’d tell me what I already knew but now I understand there’s more to it and the security that’s required by who you are guiding is essential. It’s not imposing at all, and I really enjoyed it and found it so informative for me who didn’t know anything about it before.”

Phyl guides Laurence on a walk in the Mournes describing the scene ahead.

Some partnerships go to gigs, others visit galleries and museums whilst many use their time to explore the coffeehouses and cafes in their local area! Phyl also feels that her voluntary role serves a dual purpose as it helps give Laurence’s wife some respite. “She can go meet her friends for coffee or do a bit of shopping while myself and Laurence are out.”

Laurence himself is extremely appreciative of what Guide Dogs NI, and Phyl in particular have done for him. “I enjoy her company and her knowledge of the local area and also getting chatting to people we meet along the way. We make a great team!”

Phyl encourages anyone who has 2-3 hours to spare per week to contact Guide Dogs NI and get involved. “I would absolutely say to someone to go and enquire because it’s not a great deal of time out of your life per week and it’s a lot of fun!”

Guide Dogs NI are holding an hour-long virtual information session on Tuesday 1st March at 7pm for people who would like to find out more about becoming a volunteer.

If you’d like to attend the event, email:


or call 07766526873

About Guide Dogs

Guide Dogs is here to help the two million people living with sight loss live the life they choose. Children and adults. Friends and family. Our expert staff, volunteers and life-changing dogs are here to help people affected by sight loss live actively, independently and well. Founded in 1934, following our first partnerships in 1931, we are a charity that is almost entirely dependent on donations. Find out more at: