A university student from Peel was almost upstaged by his guide dog when they attended his graduation ceremony.

When Robert Gregor (generally known by his middle name of Juan) graduated from the University of Central Lancashire, his guide dog, Angel, also sporting her own graduation gown, prompted extra cheers from the audience when they appeared together on stage.

The 25-year-old former Queen Elizabeth II High School pupil, who is registered blind, has spent the last three studying years in Preston for his degree in counselling and psychotherapy. He said the university’s disability support services had made his time there run very smoothly.

’The help I received was absolutely brilliant,’ he said.

’From accommodation, to security, to library services and of course my academic tutors, I was given great support. What’s more, the university was willing to listen and work with me when I suggested changes to make improvements. They got it spot on.’

Juan went to UCLan after completing his A-Levels at the Royal National College for the Blind, in Hereford.

He was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of seven and was partially sighted when he was 13, before being registered blind at 17-years-old.

Juan said his choice of university course, counselling and psychotherapy, was motivated by a desire to ’help and understand people’. He already has plans to take up a Masters’ degree at UCLan in September.

He added: ’I’ve signed up for a Masters’ in Integrative Psychotherapy, which I will study for part-time and complete 100 hours of placement work alongside my studies. I’m aiming to do my placement with Cruse Bereavement Care as I think that will be really worthwhile.’

Juan’s dog, three-year-old Labrador and Golden Retriever cross, Angel, has supported him during the last two years of his course after his last guide dog became ill and retired.

He added: ’I was a white cane user until 2013, when I received my first Guide Dog called Wilma.

’Wilma was a golden retriever and worked with me for three years until she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2016, the Easter of our first year at UCLan.

’In July 2016 I trained with Angel and she’s been working with me ever since. It was actually the anniversary of our training when we graduated.

’Angel supports me around campus by guiding me and making sure I am safe whilst we travel the streets of Preston. It is my job to understand where everything is on campus, but her job is to ensure I don’t walk into walls, bollards or people.

’She is well loved around university, and one of my lecturers last year brought her carrots, her favourite treat, every week for our personal development module.’

Juan graduated from UCLan at Preston’s Guild Hall alongside more than 3,500 fellow students.

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