Gruelling challenge for daughter’s guide dog

John Bull right, who is running the Comrade's Marathon in South Africa in aid of Dogs for the Deaf, pictured with his daughter Alison and her hearing dog Poppy. 110427AR7pic2.
John Bull right, who is running the Comrade's Marathon in South Africa in aid of Dogs for the Deaf, pictured with his daughter Alison and her hearing dog Poppy. 110427AR7pic2.

A RIPON man has signed up to a gruelling African marathon to raise money for his daughter’s hearing dog.

Veteran marathon runner John Bull from Littlethorpe Park, Ripon, is taking part the 56 mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa.

He is hoping to raise at least £2500 for Dogs for the Deaf, enough to train a hearing dog for his 34 year old Alison daughter who is deaf and partially sighted.

Alison has been without a dog for two years since her first hearing dog had cancer and was put down in September 2007 and her second did not make the grade as a hearing dog.

“It is very difficult for Alison to be without a dog. It’s company for her, and people speak to her if she has a dog,” said John.

Now John and Alison have bought a Labrador puppy called Poppy, who they want to be trained as a hearing dog and, eventually, a guide dog for the blind giving Alison the freedom to go out alone.

“If the dog is a hearing dog or a guide dog she will be able to go into shops and restaurants, which she can’t do with Poppy at the moment,” said John.

John runs a shop in Catterick Garrison, where Alison works two days a week. He has run more than 13 marathons since his first attempt in London in the 1980s, including the Everest marathon in 2003 and 2007, and the Marathon des Sables in 2004. He is a member of Ripon Runners and will be following in the footsteps of three other Ripon runners who have taken part in previous years.

“I am just aiming to finish it,” he said, “I don’t have a target time, I just want to finish.”

The race takes place on May 29 and is run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban on a course double the length of a normal marathon. The direction alternates each year, and John will be running the ‘uphill’ course which climbs 870m from the start in Durban. The race was set up in in tribute to the hardships suffered by soldiers of the First World War.

To sponsor John send cheques direct to Dogs for the Deaf.