Trailblazer Joshua

Joshua and guide dog are Norris starting a new adventure in Worcester. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG090612-148TW
Joshua and guide dog are Norris starting a new adventure in Worcester. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG090612-148TW
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PARTIALLY sighted teenager Joshua Hillier will go to a national residential school in Worcester to help realise his dream of becoming a chef.

Free Press and Guardian readers took Joshua (15) to their hearts two years ago and raised £6,500 so he could stay in mainstream school.

The cash bought IT equipment including high-tech visual aids so Joshua could keep up with lessons at Kirton Middlecott.

But the Holbeach St Marks teenager’s inherited sight problem has become worse and he needs the extra help that can be provided by New College Worcester, a residential school for young people who are blind and partially sighted.

His mum, Tina (50), said Joshua had desperately wanted to stay at home and be with his mates at Kirton Middlecott.

He also wanted to be with his new best friend, guide dog Norris, and – at first – the Worcester school was reluctant to take the dog.

Tina said: “At the end of the February half-term, Joshua had been predicted results of As and Bs but came home with level D.

“He said ‘Mum, I can’t do it but if I go to New College I will succeed’.”

The LEA has agreed to fund Joshua and the college has changed its mind so Norris can go too.

Tina said: “It’s a little bit of a trailblazer. They have seen how capable Joshua is as a guide dog handler.”

Before Norris came into his life, Joshua walked by Tina’s side when they were out but he’s now confident to go off on his own with his dog.

Joshua recently completed work experience in the kitchen at Spalding’s Southernwood House, a residential home for the elderly, and staff were amazed because he helped cook meals rather than just help prepare ingredients.

Manager Toni Barwell said: “I think we learned as much from him as he did from us over the week. We realised we should not put boundaries around what his capabilities are.”

Tina said Joshua will re-start his Year 10 studies in September at Worcester so he can get the qualifications he needs to train as a chef.