Our musical LOOK mentors came to greet Nezlamni Golosy – Unbreakable Voices – a choir made up of students, graduates and teachers from the Kharkiv School for the Blind, who had to leave Ukraine after their boarding School was bombed in July 2022 during Russian shelling.

We heard how a teacher from one of their partner schools in Poland, drove to the border in a coach to collect them and brought them back to Poland, where they have been sheltering ever since.

We had a magical and moving day at the Guide Dog National Centre, and we hope to collaborate again in the future with our new Ukrainian and Polish friends.

So many magical moments, and we’ve shared a few in the photos and videos below…


Listen to the Ukrainian choir sing their National Anthem

And they followed beautifully with the British National Anthem – God Save the King

Our LOOK mentors offered some music too.

Here’s mentor Grace playing the Pipa – a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, sometimes known as the Chinese lute

And here’s a photograph of the Choir singing with Guide Dog posters on the wall behind – Guide Dogs exist to help people with sight loss live the life they choose

 

Thanks Guide Dogs for this beautiful image below of LOOK mentor Grace with her Pipa, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, on her knee and lovely baubles on the Christmas tree in the background.

And the Guide dogs got in on the action too. Here’s a guide dog in training meeting one of the Ukrainian musicians

And one of the Ukrainian students gets a lesson in the great British tradition of cracker pulling, with LOOK mentors beautiful Golden guide dog getting in close and personal to help out (photo below shows a Ukrainian student wearing a pink tracksuit pulling a red and white striped cracker. There is a guide dog’s nose pressed up almost touching the cracker with a very determined look in his eye)

As well as meeting new friends, it was also wonderful for LOOK mentors to meet up too – sometimes for the first time in person. Like Uss, who started his journey with LOOK as a mentee. Uss was our Mentor of the Month in September. Here he is with his former mentor Nathan, and the two are now firm friends.

And LOOK mentors from left to right in the photo below, Grace on her Pipa, Kevin on keyboards and Matt on guitar. Matt was our March Mentor of the Month. Read about him here.

 

And thanks Guide Dogs for capturing this great group photo of our LOOK mentors together, with some guide dogs joining too. On the left of the photo below is Elin Williams, LOOK’s Mentoring Development Coordinator, and on the right of the photo is Charlotte, LOOK’s director. Both Elin and Charlotte, are wearing LOOK hoodies, and like many in the LOOK staff team (and all of our volunteer mentors) are severely sight impaired.

Connecting with new friends who also live with sight loss and sharing awesome musical gifts is such a delight for all of us, and our hearts go out to them for all the loss and heartbreak they, their families and communities have experienced during this past year. 

Huge thanks to Guide Dogs for hosting this wonderful day and inviting us to take part.
In the photo below , John Turnball education officer at Guide Dogs, Charlotte Carson, Director of LOOK, Carl Freeman Guide Dogs Head of Partnerships, and Elin William LOOK’s Mentoring Development Coordinator

And big thanks too to Jess, Charlotte’s wonderful PA, for being on hand to capture some of these magical moments. Photo below of Jess in her LOOK hoodie, with a long blond ponytail capturing a group shot with her ipad

And then, sadly, it was time to say goodbye

Video below shows Guide Dogs and LOOK staff waving goodbye as the coach with the Ukrainian and Polish visitors pulls away around the corner.

Until next time…