Readers of The Mail gave blind people in Furness an amazing Christmas present in December 1991 four guide dogs.

The newspaper has begun its appeal to raise £1,000 to train a guide dog on November 14 - and money had come flooding in.

In mid-December a mystery donor boosted the appeal by almost £1,000.

By Christmas Eve the fund stood at £3,834 and with pledges of further support The Mail said it was certain it would raise more than £4,000.

A spokesperson for the Guide Dogs Association said: "We are always amazed at the generosity of people, but Barrow has surpassed that.

"We know some folk there have been having a rough time lately and this effort is truly wonderful."

People from all over Furness had helped. Among them were patients at Rampside Day Hospital. They raised money for others each month and in December gave £21.60 to the appeal.

A group of people signing themselves 'Lucy, Bernie, Julie, Kay and Alec' from Furness Engineering and Technology of Ulverston decided to give the money they would have spent on office Christmas cards to the appeal instead.

Among those who had pledged further support were Furness dog Agility Club, which would hold a sponsored assault course competition for their dogs in Vickerstown park in January.

In February 1992 it was reported that Mail readers were given an award for their generosity in the newspaper's Guide Dog for the Blind Appeal.

A total of £4,000 raised by the appeal, plus a £250 donation by the Mail's owners, Cumbrian Newspapers, had been given to the Guide Dogs for the Blind.

More money would be raised when the organisation sold used stamps sent in by Mail readers to aid the fundraising.

In acknowledgement of the generosity, Guide Dogs for the Blind presented the Mail with a trophy in the shape of a silver dog on a black base.

The inscription read: 'Presented to the readers of the North-West Evening Mail in sincere gratitude from Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, 1991'.