It was a day of old and new as the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind hosted its senior citizen’s tea in Paulshof on 3 October. The tea coincided with the United Nations International Day of Older Persons.
This was the third annual such tea hosted by the organisation and was a chance to thank old age homes, clubs and societies from across the city for their continued support, which has helped the visually impaired and other people with disabilities to lead independent and successful lives.
It was also a chance for the volunteers and staff to introduce Vernon Putton, the new executive director for the Guide-Dogs Association.
Putton, who had only started his new position a day or two before the tea, addressed the audience and thanked them sincerely for their support. “Without people like you who give to this organisation, it just wouldn’t exist.
“At the end of the day we are still like a business – each one of us is a cog, and the team members [in the organisation] are also cogs which are able to make things happen. I rely on you just as much as you rely on me.”
Putton comes from an engineering background and has extensive experience in the business world.
After his welcome, guest speaker Michiel van der Merwe was handed the microphone. Van der Merwe set off on a two-week trek to Mount Everest basecamp between 28 April and 12 May last year to raise funds for the association and delighted the audience with stories about his travels.
“We lost all our equipment when our luggage was lost after we flew to Nepal [to begin the climb],” he told them, referring to himself and his two companions on the trip.
“So we ended up wearing the same clothes for the two weeks, and fortunately someone gave us jackets and a sleeping bag. Every day we travelled from 7am until 4pm.
“I also got altitude sickness on my second day of the climb, and we experienced bad weather.”
Not deterred though, Van der Merwe will continue his fundraising and plans to summit Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, in a few months’ time.
If you would like to support the association, their 2019 calendar is currently available at R100 a copy, and a second-hand bookstore has also recently opened at their Paulshof premises.