CAMPAIGNER FOR THE BLIND BRINGS GUIDE DOG FOR THE FIRST TIMEBy Humphrey Carter
AFTER 30 years of dedicated and hard work in the UK and across the world, Jill Allen-King MBE has finally come on holiday to Majorca with her guide dog Lady. What is more, if it had not been for Allen-King, David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, would never have been allowed in the House of Commons with his guide dog and perhaps never have become an MP. Allen-King is no stranger to Majorca, she has been coming here at least once a year since 1985. It is Lady who is a stranger this time, but has settled into her new environment extremely well and Allen-King said yesterday that, on the whole, everyone has been wonderful in Palma Nova where they are staying. Allen-King and Lady flew over with British Midland. Despite the legislation having been changed three years ago as part of the Passport for Pets scheme, none of the charter airlines will apparently take guide dogs, something Allen-King is lobbying the airlines about. However, she has no complaints about British Midland, she said that they were upgraded to First Class not because of me however, they thought it would be more comfortable for the dog, we got the free drinks though. The Hotel Cala Bona where she is staying has also welcomed Lady with open arms and despite a few uncooperative taxi drivers, perhaps they're not used to guide dogs or unaware of the law, she says that after this first experience with her guide dog, Majorca is an excellent location for blind people wishing to go on holidays. Allen-King has been blind for 32 years, she went blind on her wedding day and until getting her first guide, was house-bound for seven years.
But since then, she has become one of the biggest campaigners for the blind, hence she was awarded the MBE.
Allen-King has been on the Royal National Institute for the Blind committee and is now heading up a European Committee, the next meeting is in Moscow in June.
Her work has taken her to Australia and all over the world in her quest to secure maximum access for blind people.
It was after being refused access to the public gallery in the House of Commons that she started to lobby for a change in the law which paved the way for David Blunkett to embark on his political career. It was during her campaign that David Blunkett contacted Allen-King to wish her all the best as he wanted to become an MP, but could not enter the House with his guide dog. Allen-King was also behind the invention of textured pavements in the UK to enable blind people to know when they were on the curb and the pavement, her invention has since been adopted world wide. They've even got an equivalent here in Majorca, it's great when you realise you've done something that has really served to help people, she said yesterday. Allen-King returns home to the UK on Tuesday, Lady's already dreaming about the first class treatment although she had to have a full vet's check-up prior to travel in accordance with the Pet Passport regulations. Allen-King will certainly be back, along with her four-legged travelling companion.
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