Town fields tribute for guide dog

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A new plaque on a Doncaster park bench is paying tribute to a guide dog who recently passed away.

Doncaster Council and Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust have worked in partnership to help Gary Heelbeck and his family remember Labrador Alice.

Gary and Alice often used to take leisurely walks through Town Fields and this particular bench was a favourite spot for them to sit and rest.

They were also familiar faces at the Doncaster Dome where Gary goes to work out.

Alice retired three years ago but continued to live with Gary and his new guide dog Veda.

When Alice died staff at the Dome decided to raise money for a memorial plaque in her name. The plaque was fitted by Doncaster Council to the bench which was given a fresh coat of paint.

Gary’s daughter Cheryl Heelbeck said: “I’d like to thank both staff at the Dome and council’s central streetscene team for their help. Alice meant so much to us and this is a lovely way to remember her.”

Councillor Christine Mills, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Plaques on park benches are a great way for residents to pay tribute to loved ones. This is thought to be the first plaque for a guide dog in the borough.”

Andrew Burden, Chair of Trustees at DCLT, said: “Alice was a regular visitor to the Dome along with Gary and our staff really wanted to pay her a fitting tribute.

“It was a great gesture for them to fundraise for the bench plaque and it allows Alice to be fondly remembered at a place that was special to both her and Gary.”