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jill allen king

A WESTCLIFF-based blind campaigner is now without her independence for the first time in 51 years, as she waits for a new blind dog.

Jill Allen-King OBE is devastated that her guide dog Jagger was made to retire aged 10, with no new dog to take his place.

It is a timely anniversary for Mrs Allen-King, who went blind 59 years to the day that Jagger retied.

Speaking on June 6, she said: “It was 59 years to the day that I went totally blind, on my wedding day.”

The well-known campaigner, who won the lifetime achievement award at last year’s Pride of Britain Awards, has helped usher in a variety of improvements for people living with sight loss across the Borough.

The association puts the long waiting list down to Covid 19, but for Mrs Allen-King, the problems stated before this, with those in partnerships with guide dogs going gown from 5,0000 to 3,600 in recent years.

For Mrs Allen-King, one of the main problems is The Guide Dog Association’s new procedures and training methods.

She said: “What I would call the ‘good old trainers’, have dropped out a lot and the voluntary walkers who walk the puppies are reducing too, because of the new rules.

“The association don’t seem to understand that their new rules are actually making people with sight loss more unsafe.”

Mrs Allen-King also issued a plea to local residents to help keep the pavements clear, by cutting back low hanging branches, and making sure rubbish bags are not left in the middle of the pavement.

She said: “Walking down my road in Silversea Drive, there are cars parked all over the pavements, and rubbish bags  strewn all over the street on bin day.

Jagger, who Mrs Allen-King is keeping as a pet, no longer wears his harness, and cannot guide her around hazards.

Mrs Allen-King’s plea also includes a message to Southend Council: “We try and go to Chalkwell Park once a day and the branches and bushes are also very overhanging there and the pavements are absolutely awful.”

She is also concerned about the lack textured paving near where she lives.

“When I walk down to the post office at the junction of Eastwood Boulevard and Cavendish Gardens, there is no textured paving. It’s really dreadful. I can’t tell where the pavement ends and the road begins.”

Anna Firth, MP for Southend West, has led a campaign to see the 82-year-old provided with a new guide dog, insisting Mrs Allen-King be placed on the “priority list.”

She also spoke with Pete Osborne, chief operating officer of Guide Dogs UK, who assured her the organisation is doing everything it can to help Mrs Allen-King.

Mrs Allen-King added: “For 51 years I’ve been safe with the use of my guide dogs.

I am useless without a guide dog and will not be confidently independent at all.”


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