Wakefield businessman takes inspiration from Guide Dogs tale

Richard Winter of Ovenu Wakefield with guide dog Yoko

Richard Winter of oven valeting service Ovenu Wakefield has received an insight into the vital work conducted by Guide Dogs as part of its Name a Puppy scheme.

The 50-year-old, who took on the business in 2019, is one of more than 100 Ovenu franchisees across the UK funding the training of Labrador pup Selsey, who is said to be “progressing well” as she works towards becoming a fully qualified guide dog.

During Ovenu’s annual conference, Richard was further inspired by guest speaker George Upfield and his guide dog Yoko.

Left severely visually impaired after suffering a childhood brain tumour, George began volunteering with Guide Dogs and joined the charity as an administrator, later becoming an operations support coordinator. He described the many aspects of its work and thanked everyone for their generous donations and puppy sponsorship.

Richard, who is from Wakefield and previously worked as a sub-contractor for the former franchise owner, said: “George’s talk was inspirational and really brought home how important it is to sponsor the training of puppies like Selsey. Guide Dogs offer life-changing independence and freedom to people living with sight loss. However, it’s more than just mobility, because the companionship of a guide dog also brings positive psychological and social effects.”

Rik Hellewell, the founder and managing director of the Ovenu franchise, said: “George’s personal story was very moving, and he inspired us all to continue to support Guide Dogs’ valuable work.”

Jo Berry, the charity’s business development manager, said: “We would like to thank everyone at Ovenu for their continued support of Guide Dogs, without the help of companies like Ovenu we would not be able to provide our life changing services to people living with sight loss.”

As well as the cathedral city, Ovenu Wakefield also covers Dewsbury, Ossett, Horbury, Mirfield, Newmillerdam, Carlton, Lofthouse, Ardsley, Crigglestone, Flockton, Woolley and surrounding areas.