Buzz drops into training

Date: 12 Jul 2019

Wasps’ first-team squad had a surprise visitor to their Broadstreet training base.

Six-month-old black labrador Buzz – who will be trained as a guide dog – set tongues wagging when he turned up to greet the men in Black and Gold while they were on their lunch break.

The visit was made on behalf of the Coventry Volunteer Group from the Guide Dogs charity, who have received around £2,500 worth of donations from Wasps supporters to fund Buzz’s training over the coming months.

The donations have made up half of a £5,000 sponsorship fundraising drive – as part of the Godiva Puppy Appeal – that was launched in late 2015 and was finally achieved in 2018 to help Buzz through his training to become a fully-qualified Guide Dog.

Frank Lynn is an Ambassador for the Coventry Volunteer Group from the Guide Dogs charity and was behind the initial fundraising drive.

He said: “As a charity, Guide Dogs rely on voluntary funding and can only train dogs and support partnerships for visually-impaired people if we receive enough donations – and there is a waiting list at the minute – so we are extremely grateful to both Wasps and the general public for their generous donations.

“If we take Buzz as an example, he will be with a designated puppy walker until he is around 14-months-old before heading on to his next stage of training at the Leamington Training Centre where he will learn all of the key skills needed to assist someone with a visual impairment – such as working in a harness and avoiding obstacles.

“In the Coventry area we have many volunteers who puppy walk, board dogs in training or look after Guide Dogs’ breeding stock as well as fundraising, so that Guide Dogs can provide freedom and independence to blind and partially-sighted people, not only locally but throughout the UK.”

Verity Brown, Community and Matchday Marketing Manager at Wasps, initially invited the Guide Dogs charity’s Coventry Volunteer Group to fundraise at several Wasps matches.

She added: “Guide Dogs play such a vital role in a lot of people’s lives and we knew that giving them a platform to raise funds would make a difference to someone in need.

“Wasps supporters were given the chance to vote for the puppy’s name – and Buzz was the overwhelming favourite.

“Buzz was the centre of attention at the training ground and the players were keen to have a stroke and find out more about the work that they do.

“We have a strong relationship with the Guide Dog charity and are looking forward to working with them in the future.