Comedian Dave Spikey will ‘paws’ from his busy tour schedule for a special unveiling in Chorley this weekend.
For the Whittle-le-Woods-based funnyman will announce the name of Chorley’s new guide dog puppy.
Dave, best known for playing compere Jerry St Clair in “Phoenix Nights”, team captain on “8 out of 10 Cats” and host of “Bullseye”, will announce the name at a special event in the town centre on Saturday.
Dave, who has had a close association with the guide dog charity, is in the middle of his popular Punchlines tour, but he admits he is a bit of a soft touch when it comes to animals, which made him happy to spare the time.
He said: “Grace from Chorley Guide Dog Association is a good friend of mine. I was involved in doing a blindfold challenge with them a couple of years ago.
“It’s just one of those things. I’m very much involved in animal welfare.
“I’m patron of several charities home and abroad. This great charity [Guide Dogs] is not funded by the Government - which seems ridiculous - so it seemed a natural thing for to be involved in.
“I haven’t got any pets at the moment, but I used to have a real menagerie of animals.
“I had four goats and a sheep, rescued just before their journey to the abattoir.
“I had 30-odd liberated battery chickens, a turkey called Bertie - I saw a farm advertising “Pick your own Turkey for Christmas” so I went in and chose him and the
farmer said, ‘Shall I kill it and pluck it for you?” I said, “No, put him in the car.’
“It was an impulsive thing that I hadn’t really thought through because the hatchback was full, so Bertie had to sit in the passenger seat and he wasn’t the best passenger.
“He wouldn’t put his seat belt on and when we got to Fredericks Ice Cream he said ‘Do a left here’ and I said, ‘I know!’
“So we got home and I released him into the back garden and said ‘Happy Christmas Bertie. Live long and prosper’.
“I had nine rescued dogs at the same time, mainly older dogs because I learned early on that they don’t get chosen very often and so effectively block a kennel up for
Bolton-born Dave, who moved to Chorley 25 years ago, is also patron to two Bolton pet charities Pet Rehome and Paws for Kids, Local Animal Protection Society in
Spain and Animals Asia.
He is looking forward to the naming event on Saturday.
Later that night he will be appearing in Wakefield with his Punchlines show.
He said the tour is going really well and is getting great reviews.
“It’s funny when you have a little idea about a theme for a show and the audiences really embrace it. The reception has been exceptional and exceeded my expectations actually.
“In this show, Punchlines, I’m analysing what actually is a punchline in its widest sense? I’m fascinated by that part of human nature that loves to laugh. It’s a primal instinct and it’s this irresistible urge we have to take every opportunity to have a laugh.
“I love the fact that, no matter where we are, at work, in the pub, restaurant, whatever, we get into a conversation and sooner rather than later, we end up laughing because someone spots the opportunity to say something funny and then it becomes a competition as to who can be the funniest.
“I’ll be dashing in and dashing out of the Guide Dog event, but it’s just great to be involved in it.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea. It should be a great day.”
Grace Jackson, from Guide Dogs Chorley branch, who is organising the puppy naming ceremony, said she had been overwhelmed by the way groups, businesses, individuals and residents had got behind their fundraising puppy campaign.
She said: “We only started raising money for a puppy for the Chorley community seven or eight months and already we’ve managed to raise the £5,000 we
need. This will be the first named by the Chorley community who has helped raise the funds.
“Naming a puppy this way is to thank the Chorley community for all their generosity. Funding a puppy will change the life of a visually impaired person, which is
something to be proud of.
“When we’ve been going around, giving talks to schools and other organisations, we asked them what they think the dog should be called. There was a clear favourite
which will be revealed on the day.”
Local singer Helen May, performing with guitarist John Watkins, will kick-start the event before Dave unveils the name of the puppy in the presence of the Mayor of Chorley, councillor Marion Lowe.
Dave will also be meeting scouts who have helped fund the new dog.
Steve Morton, district commissioner for Chorley District Scouts, said: “We are delighted that Chorley Guide Dogs were able to help our members find out more about Guide Dogs and how people with seeing difficulties address everyday life, which many of us take for granted.
“We are pleased that the Guide Dogs Charity were chosen by our young people as partners in the ‘A Million Hands project’ as part of our commitment to Community
Impact at a local, national and global level.
“The cubs and scouts who did the fundraising are excited at the prospect of Dave Spikey introducing the new puppy to the Chorley community.”
The Guide Dogs Charity relies on public donations to keep their invaluable service going.
If you would like to donate or find out more about fundraising email firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 01257 279224.
The Chorley Community puppy will be announced by Dave from 11am at the entrance to the undercover market on Cleveland Street, Chorley.
It’s free to attend and all are welcome.