Can you imagine what it’s like for your whole world to change overnight?

To feel like a different person, to have people treat you differently and to feel lonelier than you have in your entire life?

I can.

You see, three years ago that’s exactly what happened to me.

There I was, a confident outgoing woman in her 50s, driving wherever I wanted to go, meeting friends, enjoying long walks in the country.

But suddenly, all of that changed. Overnight my vision became blurry and in a matter of days my sight deteriorated dramatically.

Of course, I sought medical help straightaway. The last thing I expected my doctors to say was; ‘I’m sorry Kim there’s nothing that can be done’. I went into shock. In fact, I think it took six months for the news that my sight would never return to sink in.

Everything became darker, not just visually but emotionally. I was in a dark place. My self worth and my confidence were on the floor.

Kim Murphy with her Guide Dog Jango Credit – Photograph: ©Fran Veale

And to make matters worse, people began to treat me differently; they would address my husband or my friends instead of me. It was as though they thought that along with my sight I had also lost my mind. I felt like I was fading away, becoming invisible.

But, from the beginning I knew there was one thing that could help give me back my happiness, my independence and my confidence. I knew, even then that a Guide Dog was the key to getting my life back.

You see, Irish Guide Dogs are doing everything they can to reach everyone like me who needs a Guide Dog. But the reality is that 85% of their funding comes from people like you. And so, it’s only with your support that more Guide Dogs can be trained.

Irish Guide Dogs have the expertise and the commitment to train the dogs needed. But they need your help to fund the specialised training a Guide Dog requires.

Kim Murphy with her husband Anthony and her Guide Dog Jango – Photograph: ©Fran Veale

And with more funding Irish Guide Dogs can train even more Guide Dogs like Jango.  And that means shorter waiting times for people like me.

I can honestly say that every day I spent waiting was excruciating. I felt trapped inside my house, unable to leave without somebody’s help. My beautiful morning walks by the lake near our house became a thing of the past. I couldn’t visit friends like I used to.

Heartbreakingly, I even had to give my gorgeous Great Dane, Bella, to a friend. Without my sight, looking after such a big dog had become impossible.

But one of my worst days was the day my car was sold. Hearing the car being taken from the driveway, knowing I would never drive again was devastating.

I’ll never forget the day I finally received the call that would change my life forever.

A dog had been identified for me and he sounded perfect. His name was Jango, he loved country living but could also handle a bit of retail therapy when duty called. In the middle of a busy restaurant I burst into floods of tears. But they were tears of relief and of joy; life was about to start again.

You can help spare someone from that agonising wait. Your gift will help train even more Guide Dogs so that no-one has to wait as long as I did.

I promise your gift will help change someone’s life. I know because Jango has changed mine.

Meeting Jango was one of the best moments of my life. He’s a beautiful big cuddly golden retriever with the personality to match. From the moment I met him I knew we were going to be best buddies.

There are no words to properly describe how our first walk together felt. I was nervous of course, but the sense of freedom was incredible. Walking down the street, not bumping into anything or anyone. I knew with Jango by my side everything would be better. My hero had arrived.

Since that day we’ve been inseparable. It’s not just Kim anymore, it’s Kim and Jango. I can’t imagine waking up and not having him there.

Each morning Jango and I go for that beautiful country walk that I’d missed so much. We go shopping, visit friends and do everything I used to do before I lost my sight.

And we’ve had lots of adventures. One of our biggest was when my mum who lives in the UK was ill. Jango and I flew across on our own.

Can you believe it? Before Jango I could barely step outside the front door alone and now we’re crossing oceans.

He’s given me back my independence, my confidence and even my personality. Being social and getting out and about is such a big part of who I am. But there was a time after I first lost my sight when I thought that person might be gone forever.

It’s thanks to people like you who support Irish Guide Dogs and Jango that I got my life back. And that’s why I don’t want anyone else in my situation to have to wait so long.

What Jango does for me every day is amazing. In fact, he’s saved me from serious injury on more than one occasion. Twice at pedestrian crossings he’s used his body to block me from walking out just as a car zoomed past breaking a red light.

So you see, Jango hasn’t just changed my life – he may actually have saved it!

What these amazing Guide Dogs do for someone like me is incredible. Jango has been the key to restarting my life and helping me live independently again.

Probably without realising, you and other people who support Irish Guide Dogs have made such an incredible difference in my life and I’m so grateful.

People say money can’t buy happiness but the truth is the money sent by you and all the other wonderful Irish Guide Dogs supporters is what made it possible to train Jango.

Today, I hope you’ll make another generous gift and help train more Guide Dogs for more people like me.

Because I know for a person who’s waiting for a Guide Dog right now, the day they meet their hero can’t come soon enough.

With all my thanks and good wishes,

Kim Murphy

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