Guide Dogs ChequeChildren who got their eyes down and read hundreds of books have raised thousands of pounds to give more freedom to people with visual impairment.

Students at Bede Academy, in Blyth, raised enough in their sponsored read to pay for two guide dogs to be bred and trained.

The project was organised by teacher Louise Weston and the School Action Group, which is now coordinating a poll among the children to choose names for their puppies, who are due to be born later this year.

Year 5 student Esra Aydeniz explained: “We’re going to ask everyone to pick the two names they like best then the School Action Group will see which are the most popular names.”

Sue Robinson, community fundraiser for North East England at Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, visited the academy to accept a cheque for £4,483.28 at a special assembly.

Geoff Hutchinson, the academy’s blind drums and percussion tutor who visits regularly with his guide dog Millie, told the children: “I am able to come to school and help pupils learn and play music and have a wonderful time doing that. Hopefully your contribution will help other people live a better life and also to help others.”

The new puppies, which could be labradors, retrievers or German shepherd cross, will spend their first 14-16months with a Guide Dogs puppy walker followed by 18 weeks at the association’s training centre and a final 12 weeks training with their new owner.

Irene Watson, headteacher at Bede Academy South, said: “Once the puppies are 16 weeks old we’re told they will be able to visit the academy and the children will then be able to track them as they grow and go through their training, which will be very exciting.”

“The children worked incredibly hard to raise such a huge amount. They read lots and lots of books, and we’re very grateful to parents, family and friends for sponsoring them.”