AN Abertillery man is marking 30 years of guide dog ownership with a series of fundraising events.

Jon Nixey, 54, who has been registered blind since he was 20, is aiming to raise £2,500 for Guide Dogs Cymru to thank the charity for changing his life.

If he reaches his target, he will be able to name a guide dog puppy 'Pearl' to mark the 30-year milestone.

Mr Nixey has relied on guide dogs to remain mobile and independent, since losing his sight to an inherited condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Last year his fourth dog - a German shepherd called Max - died suddenly, which was devastating for Mr Nixey who faced daily challenges while Guide Dogs found him a replacement.

Mr Nixey said: “They were the hardest five months of my life. Max became ill on the Tuesday and two days later we lost him.

“I had to rely on a long cane to get around for the first time in nearly 30 years.

"I no longer had a dog to guide me around obstacles, and I had to remap the local area in my head. It had changed over time and I did not appreciate how much.

“It took a lot to build my confidence back up, but my wife Su was wonderful, and the support from Guide Dogs Cymru was first class.”

Within months, the charity found Mr Nixey a new dog - a yellow labrador retriever cross called Sophie.

“She arrived at the right time because I needed space to grieve for Max,” added Mr Nixey.

“She is a cheeky little character, like all four of my previous dogs rolled into one. She loves paddling, and we take extended walks around Cwmtillery lakes.”


Mr Nixey was inspired to organise a series of fundraising events, based on the initials of his five guide dogs - Troy, Isaac, Eddy, Max and Sophie.

“I had a tea party in memory of Troy, and Eddie will be the inspiration for an evening concert at The Met on September 11, featuring Abertillery Ladies Orpheus Choir,” said Mr Nixey.

“The next event is on Tuesday July 9, when I’ll be putting on a furry dog suit and walking from my home into town to mark the independence I enjoyed with Isaac.

"I’ll be joined by Gill Clark, the new chair of Abertillery and Llanhilleth Community Council, and we’ll have a bucket collection at Iceland that morning.

“The final event will be a dine-in-the-dark supper later in the year, inspired by Sophie.”

You can sponsor Mr Nixey, and find out more, at