Remarkable blind woman from Jedburgh is soon to get a 'new Oscar' after a year battling covid and cancer

An inspirational blind woman from Jedburgh who has overcome Covid and cancer in the last year completed a 72 mile charity trek at the weekend in support of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 12:29 pm
Walkers Jan Shirley and Shona Ramsay from Jedburgh, finishing their St Cuthbert's Way walk at Melrose. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

Shona Ramsay, from Jedburgh, was accompanied on the St Cuthbert’s Way walk from Lindisfarne to Melrose by her friend, Oxnam-based Jan Shirley.

The two ladies are both members of the Kelso Guide Dogs for the Blind fundraising group and their efforts should see £1,200 added to the association’s coffers.

It has been a challenging few months for Shona, 58.

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Walkers Jan Shirley and Shona Ramsay from Jedburgh, finishing their St Cuthbert's Way walk at Melrose. (Photo: BILL McBurnie)

Not only did she have to deal with covid and bowel cancer but her own guide dog Oscar retired after a decade’s service.

Today, Monday, October 18, now cancer-free Shona was off to Dundee to start training with her new guide dog Dougal.

Shona, who cares for her five-year-old granddaughter, is held in such high esteem she has also been nominated for a Blind Dogs for the Blind inspirational person of the year award.

Jan sang her friend’s praises and her ability to overcome all challenges placed before her.

She said: “Shona’s guide dog Oscar retired last year and she has been without a dog since then but is going into training with a new guide dog.

“She contracted Covid last year and was also diagnosed with bowel cancer and has been through chemotherapy and radiotherapy and has come through it and is back to full fitness.”

Jan, 61, who accompanied Shona on a fundraising Borders Abbey Way walk last year – adding more than £1,100 to the association’s coffers along the way – added: “Oscar was getting a bit of arthritis and he was making mistakes and not concentrating as he should have been and he has cataracts, so his own sight is impaired now.

“He’s now happy in retirement because Shona has kept him. Oscar is no longer a working dog but he started and finished the latest walk, which we started last Tuesday at Holy Island and finished on Saturday at Melrose

"This is the second year myself and Shona have done a big walk like this and this year marked the 90th anniversary of the Guide Dogs Association, so we were celebrating that. That’s why we decided to walk the 90k, although we actually walked 116k.

“The association does not receive any government funding and it costs £60,000 for a guide dog from when it is born to its retirement.

“Shona keeps horses and has five year old granddaughter that lives with her. She’s not a lady who just sits around. She rides a horse and takes her granddaughter up to school every morning and picks her up every afternoon. The dog has to be a very special dog that fits in with Shona’s active lifestyle.”

Shona has been nominated for an inspirational person of the year award from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and has been shortlisted for a presentation ceremony to be staged at Leamington Spa on Thursday, November 11.