A visually impaired woman from Bexley has said that her life has been “transformed” since she was partnered with her first guide dog, after waiting over two years to have one.

Taylor Notcutt, a singer and vocal coach from Bexley, first applied for a guide dog in November 2019 before being matched with her first dog Jilly on May 24 this year after her application was halted due to Covid.

Taylor lives with Leber Congenital Amaurosis, a genetic condition leaving her with limited sight in both eyes, night blindness, colour blindness and short sightedness.

Taylor said: “We qualified in July and I can honestly say in a couple of months she has transformed my world.

“She has helped with everything, from assisting me across roads safely, to spotting obstacles that I wouldn’t see and navigating them carefully, as well as being a wonderful dog around the house and great company when I’m working.”

Once visually impaired candidates on the wait list for a guide dog are matched, they are then required to train with the Guide Dogs charity before qualifying with their new dog.

Guide dog training, lasting four weeks, focuses on helping owners learn the necessary skills and commands to work effectively with their new dog.

News Shopper: Taylor with her guide dog JillyTaylor with her guide dog Jilly (Image: Taylor Notcutt)

Taylor said: “The training process was fascinating. I loved building a bond with her and feeling a difference every day in our connection.“ Following her partnership with Jilly, who she described as “loving, clever and a huge personality”, Taylor was also recently featured in Guide Dogs UK’s “From Childhood to Adulthood” campaign.

She was featured in an online video in which guide dog owners share their personal accounts of growing up and living with sight loss.

Taylor, now 28, was first diagnosed with her eye condition at the age of two and has lived with the condition ever since.

In the video Taylor described her journey from first being diagnosed to getting her first guide dog as an adult, and feeling as if a “weight had been lifted.”

Taylor, who has been a long cane user for many years, has said that having a guide dog has given her an increased sense of confidence, after feeling “scared of living” for so many years.

Taylor said: “Having a guide dog means the world. She makes my life so much easier, fuller and happier.

“I feel safe, secure and confident living that last 20 percent of my life that I was scared of living before.

“My Jilly is a life changer.”

A spokesperson for Guide Dogs said: “To help raise awareness around sight loss and what Guide Dogs can provide, we heard from seven incredible people as they share their personal journey with sight loss and how we’ve supported them along the way.

“We offer a range of life-changing services for adults and children with a vision impairment and their families, helping people achieve things many imagine are impossible – from dreams and passions to careers - and supporting them every step of the way.

“These stories help us show how we provide life-changing support for people with sight loss from childhood to adulthood.“