A youngster who inspired his community to raise more than £30,000 for Guide Dogs has been honoured with a top award.
Mason Davies, aged 12, of Llandrindod Wells, was named Inspirational Young Person of the Year at the Guide Dogs People Awards in Atherton yesterday (Wednesday), hosted by BBC presenters Sally Nugent and John Kay.
Mason, who lives on a farm, has a severe sight impairment due to retinal dystrophy and in 2021 was warned he could lose all his vision within a year. He applied for and received an iPad through Guide Dogs’ Tech For All scheme, which allows the families of children with a vision impairment to access the technology they need completely free of charge. This made him determined to help others with sight loss. He also wanted to raise awareness of Guide Dogs in a community that is rural and remote.
Mason began by planning and tackling a 13-mile sponsored “Trig Trail” which took place on August 7 2022 over challenging Mid Wales terrain. He inspired 115 local well-wishers to join him on the walk, which took in three trig points between Llandrindod Wells and Builth Wells. Thanks to his confidence and cheeky personality, he also enlisted the support of some well-known celebrities, such as chart-topping group The Wurzels and BBC personality Wynne Evans. This brought his efforts valuable media attention, and both acts recorded special messages of congratulations to be played at the awards ceremony.
Having established himself as one of Guide Dogs’ superstar fundraisers, Mason was determined to do even more. He arranged a music event on December 3 2022 at the Strand Hall in Builth Wells with an auction and raffle and placed more than 20 dog-shaped collecting boxes in the Mid Wales area. His family say they received daily phone calls from businesses and organisations wanting to present a cheque towards Mason’s fundraising.
His efforts also inspired the inaugural Builth Wells Tractor Run in August this year, which raised nearly £700 and looks set to become an annual event.
Proud parents Gareth and Nicola Davies said: “Mason always starts the day with a smile and ends the day with a smile. He doesn’t like being different and is just like any other kid. He loves paddleboarding and is quite sharp at maths. The Trig Trail was quite a challenge.”
Mason attends school at Ysgol Calon Cymru’s Builth campus, where he makes good use of his iPad from Guide Dogs. He loves animals and six weeks ago he was given his very own golden retriever puppy, which he has named Katie.
Dad Gareth said: “She has boundless energy, and we’ve lost every other shoe in the house, but she’s good for Mason and good for the family. He loves to take her out walking.”
Mason believes he may be a candidate for a guide dog of his own in the future. In the meantime, he has been invited to name three guide dog puppies as a thank you for the money he has raised. He has chosen the names Wynne (after Wynne Evans), Meg and Deano, and will be able to follow their progress through training.
Ruth Evans, Community Fundraising Development Manager for Guide Dogs Cymru, said: “Mason is a bundle of fundraising energy who inspired a whole community to raise money for Guide Dogs.
"He set himself an initial target of £500 but quickly exceeded that and went on to raise more than £30,000 within months, making him one of our star performers. He truly deserves this award.”