A national charity is helping many blind or partially sighted residents across Nottingham get their lives back with help from some four legged friends.

Nottingham Guide Dogs on Lake View Drive has helped more than 300 people get their independence back.

But for Steve Bowles the organisation was a life line when he found himself completely cut off from the world.

The 44-year-old from Worksop said: “I woke up one morning and was unable to see a thing and you can imagine from there life got pretty tough.

“I was chucked into the wildness and left to my own devices so social services suggested I get in touch with guide dogs.

“I was so down but since being introduced to the charity and being accepted on to the scheme eventually things started to get better.”

Since losing his sight in 2008 due to a haemorrhage behind his eye, Steve has become solely dependent on guide dogs Flynn and May.

He said: “I had to do a lot of training with a cane before I was given a dog.

“My trainer Alex trains at least three dogs at a time and matches dog’s personality to a person she believes is suitable.

“Alex helped me and May learn three routes which is procedure at first and putting my total trust in her was something I had to get used to.”

He now trains with dog, Flynn following May’s retirement.

 “Everyone at guide dogs has become my family now.”

However without the organisations help, Steve who is now a full time volunteer, may never of got through his sudden diagnoses.

He said: “Everyone at guide dogs has become my family now and offer me such great support.

“I did try to take my own life but with their help I was able to turn it all around. Guide dogs has given me my life back”

The life of a guide dog begins at seven weeks old, placed with a volunteer trainer for 18 months of careful and intensive training.

“I can’t imagine life without my guide dog.”

However, despite immense amounts of training putting trust into a furry friend is not always as straightforward for those who are blind or partially sighted.

Netty Stevens, who lost her sight in November 2000, was reluctant to sign up to the scheme.

Now the 54-year-old from Newark couldn’t imagine life without current guide dog Zola.

She said: “I lost my sight overnight, firstly in my left eye then in my right. I went through a lot of depression as I have two sons so my husband got in touch with guide dogs.

“At first I thought to myself what is a dog going to do for me however they’ve proven me wrong and two dogs later here I am. I can’t imagine life without my guide dog.”

Netty hopes to run the London marathon next year with guide dog Zola in tow.

Amy Petterson, community fundraiser at the charity said: “We tailor our partnerships carefully, considering things like size of dog and size of the person using the service, pace of walking, lifestyle, other dogs, everything.

“Our dogs aren’t just dog. They give their owners independence, the ability to go out on their own and a new sense of freedom having lost their sight. These dogs are life-changing.”