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Guide dog instructor honoured for service to visually-impaired people

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Guide dog instructor John Gosling with Dogs

Guide dog instructor John Gosling AM, often referred to as the “Elder Statesman of Guide Dogs” in Australia has been honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to people who are blind or have low vision. The award comes as he celebrates 50 years of working with Guide Dogs Victoria.

2 February 2021 will mark the Guide Dog instructor’s five-decade anniversary working from the Guide Dogs Victoria campus in Kew, Melbourne.

At the age of 16, John already decided that he would spend his life working with Guide Dogs but had to wait six years for the then minimum application age of 22. In that time, he was called up for national service and served in Vietnam. He even wore his army uniform to his Guide Dogs interview upon his return, hoping that it would help secure him the job.

John’s career has spanned 50 years and includes several achievements. In 1992, he was invited to become the second Accreditation Assessor of the newly formed International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF). In this role, John assessed 24 applicant Guide Dog Schools against International Standards in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Norway, France, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Israel, Slovakia Republic, the United States of America and China.

In 2001, John was awarded the Order of Australia and in 2003, he received the Keith Holdsworth Perpetual Award for services to the Guide Dog and Orientation & Mobility Instructors profession by the Orientation & Mobility Instructors Association of Australasia, to name a few.

When asked what he is most proud of from his half-century tenure, the guide dog instructor doesn’t point to one single personal achievement. Instead, he says, “It’s the freedom and independence Guide Dogs help bring to people with low vision or blindness. Experiencing the trust Clients place in our staff and in our beautiful, dedicated dogs is a real honour.”

Reflecting on his legacy, he also takes great pride in the dedicated teams of Guide Dog Instructors and Orientation and Mobility Instructors he has helped train and guide through their careers. “These people are now based all around the world in the UK, Asia, Scandinavia and USA, and also here in Australia making a difference,” John says.

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