Secret fund-raiser for tragic Andrew

Andrew Parkinson (right) and guide dog Farley at the DW stadium in 2013
Andrew Parkinson (right) and guide dog Farley at the DW stadium in 2013

A Wigan man was left stunned by a heart-warming surprise party in memory of his late brother.

Trevor Parkinson thought he was going to a friend’s engagement party at The Balmoral Hotel in Hindley, only to realise pals had secretly planned a fund-raiser to honour sibling Andrew.

Balmoral Hotel's charity event for Andrew Parkinson. 
From left to right: 
David Fowler, Alan Jones with pooch Oliver , Andy Lee, Trevor Parkinson ,Stuart Tollitt and Helen Fowler

Balmoral Hotel's charity event for Andrew Parkinson. From left to right: David Fowler, Alan Jones with pooch Oliver , Andy Lee, Trevor Parkinson ,Stuart Tollitt and Helen Fowler

The punters raised £2,500 for Guide Dogs UK and gave Trevor the honour of naming a guide dog himself.

“It was a bit of a shock,” Trevor said. “It’s just amazing to see how much they raised.”

Andrew, who passed away at Christmas 2015 aged 42, was 95 per cent blind and relied on his guide dog Farley to remain as independent as possible.

Trevor, 41, said: “He lost his sight around 2000.

“He woke up and thought his house was on fire, because all he could see was smoke, but he was actually losing his sight.

“He lost one eye completely, and only retained 10 per cent in the other.”

The former mental health nurse was left feeling isolated, and it was a few years before he was paired with guide dog Farley, which Trevor recalled Andrew claimed was “like getting his life back.”

His untimely death led Balmoral regulars Andy Lee and Stuart Tollitt to embark on a mammoth fund-raising effort - encouraged by landlord and landlady David and Helen Fowler - all while keeping it a mystery to pal Trevor.

David said: “They (Andy and Stuart) came to us about starting something for Trevor, but in secrecy.

“Trevor knew we were doing things for charity, but not for him.

“He was totally shocked, and was close to tears.”

The fund-raisers involved a whole range of events, from sponsored pub crawls to rugby matches.

A doormat was even placed in the entrance to the pub, with punters having to donate £1 if they stood on it.

Trevor said the friendships he and Andrew made at The Balmoral were strong, and that his brother would have been eleated by the efforts his friends had gone to for their cause.

“They were like a second family. Andrew would have been over the moon with what they’ve done for something that really meant a lot to him.”

Trevor said naming a dog is not as easy thing to do, but that it would tie into Andrew’s main passion for rugby.

The brothers would often watch the sport at the Balmoral, but also held season Wigan Warriors season tickets.

In fact, guide dog Farley made headlines a few years ago by becoming the first dog to become a season member at the DW Stadium.

Now the golden retriever, who was trained as a puppy in Atherton, travels the country with Shrewsbury guide dogs to promote their services.

Donations and volunteering opportunities can be found at guidedogs.org.uk