Sixty years have passed since Eva Rich first stepped out with guide dog Parkie at her side. It was the start of a beautiful friendship - and a lifelong commitment.

Now paired with Nancy, her seventh guide dog, Eva is reflecting on the series of successful canine partnerships that have brought her real independence.

She said: "Guide dogs have been part of my life since I was 19 and I can't imagine life without one. I’ve had Parkie, Donna, Ulan, Harry, Angie, Oyster and now Nancy.

"All were labrador retrievers apart from Ulan, who was a collie-retriever cross, and all had different personalities.”

Western Telegraph: Eva with Donna (left) and UlanEva with Donna (left) and Ulan

Eva, of Saundersfoot, is well known in Pembrokeshire for the personal support she gives other volunteers and guide dog owners.

A tireless fundraiser for Guide Dogs, and always supported by her late husband, Ralph, who sadly passed away just over eight years ago, she was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1991 while working as a typist for electricity board SWEB, a role she carried out for 30 years in Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carmarthen.

She was also honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award in the 2012 Specsavers Guide Dog of the Year Awards, hosted by television presenter Adrian Chiles.

She said: "I was absolutely thrilled to win. Being a volunteer for Guide Dogs is great - you meet so many interesting people and make good friends.

"The guide dogs I have been partnered with have changed my life, so I think it's important to give something back to Guide Dogs.”

Mrs Rich helped to establish the charity’s fundraising group in Pembrokeshire in 1975, when the county had just three guide dogs.

These days, the numbers of working guide dog partnerships run far higher, and there are a number of applicants waiting patiently to be matched, the youngest aged just 15.

“We were known as the Tenby branch, but now we cover the whole of Pembrokeshire,” said Eva. “We’ve raised in the region of £700,000 for Guide Dogs, and run a stall at Saundersfoot Harbour every Wednesday throughout the summer.”

Guide dogs and their owners will be marking Mrs Rich’s 60-year milestone with a coffee and cake morning in the Regency Hall, Saundersfoot, on Wednesday May 4 from 10am-noon.

Entry is free, but a donation to the Pembrokeshire Branch of Guide Dogs Cymru would be welcomed.

Pop along to find out more, and enjoy a pat and chat!