Whittlesey dog whisperer who lost 80 per cent of sight runner up in Cambridgeshire YOPEY awards

Zak Soan with the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire Linda Fairbrother.

Zak Soan with the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire Linda Fairbrother. - Credit: Archant

A partially sighted dog whisperer has come second in a prestigious competition which recognises selfless young people in Cambridgeshire.

Zak Soan, of Cemetery Road, Whittlesey, was announced as runner up in the Linx Young People of the Year at a ceremony at Ely Cathedral last Wednesday.

The 23 year old lost 80 per cent of his sight to a rare disease at the age of 18. He lost his job, some friends and suffered depression.

Despite being registered blind, Zak volunteers at the Animal Helpline dog rescue centre in Wansford and walks between 15 and 25 dogs a day in woodland behind the centre.

Zak received £400 and has donated half of his winnings to the centre.

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He said: “Dogs definitely helped me cope with becoming nearly blind. I’m shocked because I’ve never come this far in anything before.

“The land is quite rough with sticks and stones sticking out in places, but once I have walked a particular path I remember it. If I fall over I just hang on to the dog and get back up again.”

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Lynn Bradbury, who works at the dog rescue, said: “We would not be able to do half the work we do without his input. It’s good to see a young lad who has suffered give his time to help.”

Fellow finalist Ronnie Hill. of Wisbech, was awarded £50 for the Winnicott Foundation.

Sir Harry Smith College trio Lily Andrew-Martin, Daniel Flack and Owen Davis, Cromwell Community College students Maggie Powell and Jessica Stanbridge, and Shannon Barrow of March were given £25 grants to start community projects.

The overall winner of the Cambridgeshire Young Person of the Year award went to Adam Olivant, of Cambridge, who has become a mentor to the victims of homophobic bullying.

At Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, he set up a Beat Bullying group and converted a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) group into a Gay-Straight Alliance.

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