DINERS in Newport were invited to “switch off the light and switch on their senses” at an event on Wednesday.

Raising funds for Sight Cymru and Guide Dogs, The Drago Lounge, in Friars Walk, hosted its second “Dine in the Dark” event this week - when the lights were dimmed and diners were invited to put on blindfolds before tucking into a two-course meal.

Hannah Beckett, of Chepstow, was one of the people attending the event.

She said it was her first time attending a “Dine in the Dark” event. The 30-year-old said it was an “interesting experience”.

She added: “It was quite difficult to eat – I was eating a lot more slowly than usual. I felt my other senses were more active and taste was stronger than usual.

“I felt a bit more isolated from the conversation as well.”

Ms Beckett added that these kind of events are an opportunity to give participants an idea of what life is like for people with sight loss.

Guide dog owner Wayne Stratford, from Cwmbran, was at the meal with his guide dog Alfie.

The 46-year-old – who has a type of sight loss which means he can only see shapes - said that, without Alfie, he wouldn’t “get out and about”.

He added: “Alfie is my first guide dog and I have had him for a year. He has changed my life in a lot of ways.

“He gives me confidence to go out - I am out more than I would do with a cane.”

Mr Stratford, who also does fundraising for Guide Dogs, said he would encourage any blind or partially-sighted person to check whether they are eligible for a guide dog.

“Alfie is the best thing that has happened to me,” he continued.

Meal organiser Hilary Lester said that they had 24 people to the meal this year and that they are hoping to raise around £300.

Ms Lester was a guide dog owner until recently, but her dog Yalena died in November after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Ms Lester is currently waiting for another guide dog.

“We want to raise as much as possible,” she added. “This year we are doing it as a joint fundraiser for Sight Cymru and Guide Dogs.

“I was a trustee for Sight Cymru and Sharon [the charity’s chief executive] has been really supportive me.

“It is a good partnership.”

There was an auction on the night as well, with prices including a balloon flight and a massage.

Sharon Beckett, chief executive of Sight Cymru, said that their charity provides rehabilitation for people with sight loss, such as teaching them how to prepare food safely or how to manage their bank accounts.

She said: “Events like this raise awareness of sight loss. For example, it takes a lot longer to eat and it is also a bit embarrassing.

“There is no reason not to do it again.”

Watch our reporter Estel Farell-Roig eat her meal blindfolded at southwalesargus.co.uk

To find out more about Sight Cymru, visit sightcymru.org.uk

Alternatively, visit guidedogs.org.uk/guide-dogs-cymru/