Inspirational vicar in the running for special award

Canon Simon Stokes

Canon Simon Stokes - Credit: submitted

The vicar of Sprowston has made it his life's mission to prove that being blind or partially sighted is no barrier to achieving your goals – and now Canon Simon Stokes is in the running for a special award.

Canon Stokes has been shortlisted for the Inspirational Guide Dog Owner Award at this year's national Guide Dogs Annual Awards. The 52-year-old, whose current guide dog is a two-year-old Labrador called Hope, has had poor vision since he was a child and when he was 24 his sight deteriorated to the point where he was registered as blind.

'If I were to win this award, I would feel very honoured and it would help me to show people that sight loss is no disability,' said Canon Stokes, who is married to Christine and the couple have three children.

'I always encourage people to think about what they can do, rather than what they can't do. My constant drive is to enable the community as parish priest, and I don't just mean my congregation, I mean the whole community – whether they believe or not. My guide dogs have been a huge and very important part of that. People always know who you are when you're out and about with your guide dog. Even if they don't remember my name, they'll remember Hope's.' Hope is Canon Stokes' third guide dog after Jamie, a golden retriever/Labrador cross, and Tigger, a brindle Labrador/retriever cross.

Canon Stokes, who previously had a career as an accountant, was ordained in 1992 and has been the vicar of three different parishes. He has done missionary work in Namibia, Nepal and India, and has been a member of the General Synod and a non-executive director at an NHS trust. He is a watch leader for the Jubilee Sailing Trust which enables people with disabilities to sail, he has jumped out of a plane and run three marathons for charity.

The Guide Dogs Annual Awards, in partnership with Microsoft, will be at Hilton Park Lane Hotel, in London, on December 10. Visit

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