A remarkable blind Jedburgh woman has overcome all the challenges 2021 has thrown at her

An inspirational blind woman from Jedburgh has faced up to all the huge challenges 2021 has thrown at her – and emerged triumphant.

Shona Ramsay with Oscar and Dougal. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)
Shona Ramsay with Oscar and Dougal. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

The last 11 months have been tough for everyone.

But they have proved particularly challenging for 58-year-old Shona Ramsay after she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January and underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

She also contracted Covid-19 and had the ongoing challenge of being the full-time carer to her five-year-old granddaughter Julie-Anne.

Shona Ramsay with Oscar and Dougal. (Photo: BILL McBurnie)

Adding to the pressure was the retirement of her guide dog of eight years Oscar and having to undergoing intensive training with her replacement ‘pair of eyes’ Dougal.

In between times she still somehow found time to take on the 72-mile St Cuthbert's Way walk with her close pal Jan Shirley, in support of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, with both ladies being members of the Kelso group.

Shona’s resilience was rewarded when she had the honour of being named runner-up in the association’s Inspirational Person of the Year awards at a ceremony in Leamington Spa earlier this month.

Happily, Labrador retriever Oscar, who has retired and now lives with Shona, gets on splendidly with his replacement Dougal.

Shona on the St Cuthbert's Way walk with her friend Jan Shirley. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

After training in Dundee, Shona and Dougal were officially passed to begin their life together this week.

And with a good health prognosis Shona is looking forward to the future with renewed optimism.

She said: “The guide dog training has changed so much now for the welfare of both the owners and the dogs, it’s far more intensive and I had five weeks training with Dougal, including two residential stays up at Dundee and two at home learning my home routes. Dougal is just a dream to work with, we’ve really bonded. He goes up to Julie-Anne’s school and he’s not fazed by the children running about. With the cancer to be honest I wasn’t sure if I would make it or not but the prognosis is good and have more scans in January.

"The award ceremony was a really humbling experience because there were so many inspirational people there. When I got the diagnosis 11 months ago I didn’t think I’d be here. It’s been quite a year.”

Inspirational Shona.