Monday, November 26th, 2012
Two people who are totally blind and use guide dogs will today embark on a mountainous challenge as part of a fund raising initiative for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

Deb Warren from Armidale, NSW, and Henry MacPhillamy, who grew up in Sydney but now lives in Melbourne, who both wear prosthetic eyes, leave Sydney today for Tanzania, where they will attempt to climb that country’s highest mountain to show that vision loss doesn’t have to end dreams.

Deb’s own eyes were removed when she was eight-months-old due to cancer of the retina, while Henry has been blind since birth.

Deb and Henry are undertaking the challenge as part of ‘Team Doggies’, a group of clients, staff and supporters of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, who aim to raise at least $100,000 to help Guide dogs NSW/ACT start and build its guide dog puppy breeding colony. The trip has been organised through fundraising agency Inspired Adventures.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT relies entirely on the public’s generosity to provide free services to enable independence for people with impaired vision. It costs about $30,000 to raise and train one guide dog.

Demand for guide dogs is expected to increase following research showing that the number of NSW and ACT residents aged over 40 with impaired vision is projected to reach 100,000 by 2020 .

"Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has taught me many invaluable skills that allow me to get around independently, whether it be when I was at school, uni and now work or during leisure activities,” said Deb, who has wanted to travel to Africa since she was a young child after patting a lion at a circus.

“The most precious gift for me has been my two guide dogs, Wendy and now Meg. As well as helping me to move around more confidently, freely and easily, I love their companionship, love, happiness and zest for life.

“I’m undertaking this challenge to show my heartfelt appreciation to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, and the public who so generously donate their money and time to support the organisation.”

Henry, who is studying law, is doing the challenge in honour of his first guide dog Billy, who passed away earlier this year.

“I’ve wanted to do something "BIG" in Billy’s memory, and climbing Africa’s highest mountain is the perfect challenge,” says Henry, whose new guide dog is called Quaid.

“As I wrote in my tribute to Billy, I’m doing this for all the loyalty and love he gave me during our time together. I’m also doing it for the wonderful organisation that has supported me since I was five years old. Without Guide Dogs NSW/ACT I would never have reached the levels of independence I now enjoy.”

Henry’s tribute to Billy can be read here:

While Deb and Henry won’t be travelling with their guide dogs, they will rely on their long canes, trekking poles and guiding assistance from two Team Doggies members who are Orientation and Mobility Instructors from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Jenny Croaker from Armidale and Christiana Savas from Sydney.

Over the past year, the organisation provided services to over 3,800 people. Services are tailored to suit people with different levels of vision impairment, including training in how to use guide dogs, long canes, electronic travel aids and their remaining vision to be able to get around independently.

To support the Team Doggies Mt Kilimanjaro challenge, visit

For more information about Guide Dogs NSW/ACT visit and for Inspired Adventures visit or call Director, Justine Curtis on 0421 322 960.

Source: 1: An Access Economics report, Clear Focus: The Economic Impact of Vision Loss in Australia in 2009 found that in 2009, 234,000 Australians over the age of 40 had vision loss, including being blind, with this figure to increase to 800,000 by 2020. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT estimates that in 2009 more than 70,000 NSW and ACT residents had vision loss, including being blind, with this figure estimated to increase to nearly 100,000 by 2020.

Contact Profile

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is the leading provider of guide dogs and orientation and mobility services to enable people with impaired vision to get around their communities independently. Services include providing training and aids including long canes, guide dogs and electronic travel devices such as talking GPS technology. Visit, call 1800 804 805, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Sally Edgar
P: 0413 753 241

Inspired Adventures

Inspired Adventures designs, manages and leads charity challenges for people of all ages and fitness levels. The company’s adventure treks raise on average between $50,000 and $150,000 for charities around the world.


blindness, blind, vision loss, vision impaired, guide dogs


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