A GUIDE dog owner from Henllan has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Louise Jenkins, 51, is one of three finalists for the Inspirational Guide Dog Owner of the Year Award. The winner will be chosen by viewers of ITV’s This Morning, with the ceremony taking place on Wednesday, May 17 at the Hurlingham Club in Chelsea, London.

Louise was nominated for the award by colleagues at Camfan mental health drop-in centre in Lampeter, where she is manager. She works full time, getting to and from the centre with the help of her guide dog Trinity, a two-year-old labrador retriever.

Fourteen years ago, Louise was the busy mother of teenage daughters Michelle and Alison. Her world turned upside down after a spinal cord infection permanently damaged her sight, causing blindness in one eye and tunnel vision in the other.

“Our family life completely changed,” said Louise. “Suddenly I couldn’t do anything on my own.”

She rarely left home, before deciding that life couldn’t go on like that. She said: “I realised no one else was going to change anything. It was up to me.”

Louise applied for a guide dog and was paired with labrador retriever Opal. She quickly returned to her independent and confident self, and was able to take back control of her life, retraining with the Open University.

When Louise’s second guide dog, Quinta, retired early last year after an accident, it was a huge setback. For six months, Louise felt helpless again. When she was partnered with her third dog, Trinity, last June, she was even more determined to live life to the full.

As well as working full-time, Louise provides home care for her husband of 32 years, Adrian. “We care for each other,” she said. “Sometimes Adrian holds the magnifying glass and directs me with the screwdriver!”

Louise also looks after her parents, who have complex health needs. They live 160 miles away but, with Trinity’s help, she is able to take a train to be at their side.

Guide Dogs relies on donations from the public to continue its life-changing work. With this in mind, the family helps the Aberystwyth and District Guide Dogs group at collections and fundraising events.

Louise has undertaken a number of daring challenges, including a blind drive, a zip wire ride and a Boxing Day swim. “I do things now because I can”, she said. “I don’t want sight loss to limit what I can do.”

Louise and Adrian will be supporting daughter Alison in Swansea on July 1 when she takes part in a skydive for Guide Dogs Cymru. To sponsor Alison, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alijenk14