Claire and Blaze star in charity’s festive campaign

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You probably don’t know Claire Wallace, but you might have seen her face on leaflets, billboards and even TV.

The 37-year-old from Stocks Lane in Gamlingay is the face of Guide Dogs’ 2014 Christmas campaign.

Claire and guide dog Blaze have appeared on promotional material across the country, and even on ITVs Text Santa programme hosted by Phillip Schofield.

She was picked to star in the campaign, which has also seen her story told on the Guide Dogs website, after giving a talk on legacy gifting for the charity.

Claire said: “I do fundraising for Guide Dogs and was asked if I’d give a talk, so I just went along and told my story. It all went from there.

“Christmas is quite a poignant point in my journey. It’s when I lost my sight, and it’s when I got Blaze.”

But this Christmas Claire will be enjoying one of life’s simple pleasures – going for a family walk.

It means quality time with her children and her husband Sean. But not that long ago, Claire wasn’t even sure she was going to have another Christmas.

In 2010 a blood vessel burst in her brain, and her sight was seriously damaged. She only had a 50/50 chance of surviving the operation to fix it. The doctors wanted to operate straight away, but she was desperate to enjoy one more Christmas with her family first.

She explained: “I didn’t say goodbye to anyone because I didn’t want to say goodbye, but I did take time to plan my funeral.”

Claire’s operation was a success, but her sight never recovered.

She said: “I woke up one day, eyesight gone. Over night our whole life had changed.”

From being a beautician and an active mum of three, Claire suddenly had to get used to depending on other people to do all the things she used to take for granted.

But last Christmas changed her life completely.

Claire said: “Last Christmas I got the phone call saying I’d been matched with my Blaze, and I burst in to tears.

“I kind of underestimated how much she would help me. I knew she would get me from A to B but she’s totally transformed my life. She’s given me so much confidence.

“It’s just the little things, like taking my little boy to school or to the park. It’s the little things that people take for granted that I couldn’t do – and now I can.”

And Claire is now training for a new career as a counsellor to help others cope with sight loss.

And finally, she feels confident enough to go on that Christmas family walk again.

Claire says “Christmas will always be magical for me, because that was the time I got Blaze, and she was the only present I needed.”