A blind cricketer and his partner are celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together all because of a special matchmaker – his GUIDE DOG.
England player Peter Blueitt first met his sweetheart Claire Doidge in November 2013, after he called to thank her for training his first ever guide dog, Kyso.
Peter, 55, then invited Claire to his home so she could see for herself how well Kyso was settling in and, Claire revealed, there was an ‘instant rapport’ between the pair.
Charity volunteer Claire, 50, said: “We hit it off straight away and started seeing a lot of each other.
“Peter and I would go to the theatre together or to watch football or to fundraising events for guide dogs. Then 10 months ago, we realised we both wanted to take the relationship further.”
Peter, of Rotherham, South Yorks., started to lose his sight in 2008 after a bleed into a pituitary tumour.
Although Peter used a white cane he noticed the difference that a guide dog made to his teammates on the Yorkshire Visually Impaired Cricket Club and the England Blind Cricket Team.
The sportsman began making enquiries and was quickly matched with Kyso, who had undertaken his advanced training with a Guide Dogs Mobility Instructor.
“Losing your sight is never easy but Kyso makes life so much easier, helping me to have more freedom and independence,” explained Peter.
“I don’t have to rely on anyone any more to go out and do the things that I want to do.
“He makes a massive difference to my lifestyle. I’m able to be actively involved in family life and help to support my children by taking my granddaughter on the school run.
“If I didn’t have Kyso I wouldn’t feel confident enough to do this.
“It’s hard not being able to see your loved ones and I really miss going out on my motorcycle, but losing my sight hasn’t been the end of the world, just the start of a different one,” he added.
The talented sportsman has recently returned from playing in the visually-impaired Ashes tournament in Australia.
During the tournament in Adelaide he competed in five one-day internationals and three T20s games. Peter is the only cricketer from Yorkshire who is currently playing in the England Blind Cricket Team.
He added: “Meeting Claire has been the icing on the cake for me and I’m able to share so much with her. I’m pleased she can visit places like Australia with me and I’m excited to celebrate our first Valentine’s Day together.”
Claire, of Sheffield, South Yorks., is a volunteer puppy walker for national charity Guide Dogs.
Guide Dogs is actively looking for more volunteer puppy walkers in South Yorkshire to support a guide dog puppy on the first part of their journey.
Visit www.guidedogs.org.uk if you would like to know more about becoming a volunteer.