Dan Lowe is missing his twice weekly swimming sessions in the pool at Bodmin Leisure Centre. Whilst no longer able to swim, however, he still walks there regularly from home with his mum and new canine companion, Lenny.

Dan has been blind since birth and Lenny is his 22-month-old golden Labrador guide dog. The pair had started training together just before the lockdown in March and whilst they are no longer able to attend official guide dog classes in Teignmouth, it’s important for Lenny to learn Dan’s routes and routines.

“I used to go to the leisure centre with my previous guide dog, Hugo, who retired in 2017 after nine years with me,” said Dan, who lives with his parents in Bodmin. “He would sit behind reception when I was swimming and Lenny will be taught to do the same. 

“I’ve always really enjoyed the sessions and having a guide dog means I can get here independently. Lenny isn’t qualified yet because of what is happening, so we come here with Mum, who is helping with the training. 

“Our aim is to be prepared for life getting back to as much normality as possible. I understand the need for the current restrictions but miss going to the centre. The staff are lovely and have always been so supportive.”

GLL general manager Martin Mullin was introduced to Lenny on one of Dan’s visits.

“Like my management colleagues throughout the county, I check the building regularly and it’s always great to hear how our customers are managing in these very strange times,” he said. “Dan’s previous guide dog, Hugo, used to sit with us when Dan was in the pool and I’ve no doubt Lenny will be doing the same when we’re able to re-open.

“It’s sad to see our gyms, pool and fitness suites empty but hopefully, in due course, people will be able to resume their exercise and social routines. We can’t wait to welcome them back.”

Operating under the Better brand, GLL is a charitable organisation that has been running the Cornwall’s council-owned leisure centres since 2017.

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