Volunteer Marie Deegan´s Irish Guide Dog journey first began in a pub in Balbriggan.

Out for a quiet drink with her husband Eamonn, the couple struck up a conversation with Guide Dog owners Tom and Breege O´Neill.

“They had their Guide Dogs with them, Sarge and Unice, and Eamonn, being dog mad, got chatting. He offered to help with anything that might be coming up with the branch in Balbriggan – and you don’t get to offer twice with Tom,” she joked.

“Then we went to a branch meeting and no sooner was I in the door than I was getting my photo taken for a Volunteer ID card. That was nine years ago! At the next AGM I became secretary of the Balbriggan/North County Dublin Branch and, as they say, the rest is history.”

“My highlight for the branch was back 2011 when we raised over €105,000. This was a phenomenal achievement for a group of Volunteers.”

The branch celebrated 30 years in existence in 2015 with a well-attended social evening in the Bracken Court Hotel.

Marie said she would encourage other people to get involved with the charity and is “constantly canvassing” for new Volunteers.

“I firmly believe that the organisation needs a lot more volunteers to help with the fundraising on the ground,” she said.

“I love being involved as I can see the benefits to the Guide Dog owners and also to the families of children with autism. I get a great buzz out of seeing the independence that the dogs provide.

“I also enjoy meeting people at all levels in the organisation… both Eamonn and I have made some great friends since becoming involved.”

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