A teenager – who has seen first-hand the benefits of having a disability assistance dog – is playing a key part in organising one of the country’s biggest clay shoots.
Molly Birch is helping to organise Barden Charity Clay Shoot, near Leyburn, to raise money for the Support Dogs charity.
The 15-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, was just 12 when her life was changed for the better by Chess, her disability assistance dog.
The condition affects her balance and use of her hands, reduces her concentration and makes it difficult for her to walk far without help.
But Chess the Labrador, who has been trained by Yorkshire-headquartered Support Dogs, has turned Molly’s life around – helping her to live much more independently.
Chess shadows Molly around the house, helping her complete daily tasks from getting dressed and undressed and picking up anything she drops, to fetching things, opening and closing doors and going for help if needed.
The dog also helps Molly with her balance, helping her to negotiate kerbs and busy environments, reducing the need for her wheelchair.
Now Molly and her parents Emma and Kevin are organising the clay shoot as a way of saying thank you to the charity for its help in transforming Birch family life.
Support Dogs provides and trains assistance dogs for children and adults with autism, epilepsy and a variety of medical conditions, enabling them to lead safer, more independent lives.
Year 10 student Molly, who is just finishing her mock GCSEs at Wensleydale School, said: “I’m really looking forward to the clay shoot. It such an amazing event, with great food, atmosphere and fantastic prizes.
“I’m so excited to be part of making this year’s shoot happen.”
Dad Kevin said: “We are so pleased to be back once again with our charity shoot especially after the success of last year.
“Molly is a key part of the committee. As well as being part of making sure the shoot runs smoothly, she is also in charge of the tombola, which in itself raises almost £2,000. She has already made six fruit cakes for prizes.”
“Support Dogs is an incredible charity, close to all our hearts, and we are thrilled to be back raising funds for them again this year.”
The Charity Clay Shoot returns after a successful first year at the new location of Barden, near Leyburn, in 2022.
The previously named Azerley Charity Clay Shoot changed its location to Barden, following a two-year break due to Covid-19 and raised a fantastic £15,000.
The committee are hoping for similar success at this year’s event, which takes place on Sunday, July 16.
The shoot is based on a team of four and covers simulated game flushes totalling 500 targets over six stands.
All participants must be shotgun certificate holders and over 16 years old. Breakfast will be served until midday, followed by bacon baps, burgers, hot dogs, a licensed bar, teas and coffees, the day is sure to be great fun as well as being for a great cause.
Prizes of £600, £400 and £200 will be given to the top three teams and whilst this is an open competition, there will also be a prize for the highest placed ladies team should they not be in the top three.
Alongside the main shoot there will also be a Pool Shoot where the .410 competition will be held. With thanks to Tom Bell from Northallerton Shooting & Countrywear, the highest score on the day will win a Yildiz -30” Barrel- .410 worth £620. This competition will be £15 a go, and five pairs of cartridges will be provided.
Since the shoot started in 2008, the event has raised an incredible £230,000 for various children’s charities including The Leeds St James Neo-Natal Unit; The Sick Children’s Trust; Follifoot Park Disabled Riders Group; The Child Development Centre at Harrogate Hospital and for the past few years, Support Dogs.
Entries for the shoot are being accepted until the maximum numbers of teams is met. The day is limited to a maximum of 75 teams so pre-registration is required. To enter the shoot please visit www.bardenclayshoot.co.uk/Entries
To find out more about Support Dogs, visit www.supportdogs.org.uk