A TWEEDDALE woman who was too frightened to leave her home after she lost her sight has found “a reason to get up” each morning.

Gwen Stein, 85, from Innerleithen suffered from loneliness and became scared to go out when she became blind following her retirement.

However, since she was partnered with her guide dog Bella last year, the former nurse has a newfound independence.

She said: “I love dogs and used to have German Shepherds when I was younger, so I decided to apply for a guide dog to help me get back some of my independence.”

Gwen retired in 1994, having started her career when she was 15.

She primarily worked in orthopaedic care.

Following her retirement, Gwen found her sight started to deteriorate.

She was diagnosed with macular degeneration and has been registered as blind.

Before getting Bella, Gwen spent almost a year barely going outside as she struggled with isolation after losing her husband.

“I used to try and keep people talking for longer on the phone, just so I would get more company,” said Gwen.

“Bella provides me with companionship and a reason to get up and go outdoors.

“I love nothing better than to walk Bella in the woods and into town, where I can meet up with friends.”

Bella, a golden retriever, was one of a litter of nine puppies funded for their whole lives by the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Ambassador for the lottery Danyl Johnson met Bella and her siblings when they were a few weeks old.

He recently visited Gwen and found out what kind of impact Bella has had.

Danyl said: “I have loved being a part of the guide dogs’ journey and meeting gorgeous Bella and the other pups in 2018 was fantastic.

“To hear about the positive impact she is having on Gwen’s life is just wonderful and I am delighted that thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery even more people will be partnered up their very own qualified guide dog.”