HRH Princess Alexandra was in Atherton to open the new world-class Guide Dog training School.

Hundreds of staff, volunteers, supporters - and dogs -looked on as the charity’s patron toured the kennel block.

The school on the Gadbury industrial estate has been in use since 2009 and allows the charity to train around 30% more guide dogs a year to make life better for blind and partially sighted people all over the country.

The purpose built school incorporates the latest ideas in dog care and welfare facilities from across the world.

An indoor all-weather training area, and an outdoor area featuring permanent street obstacles, essential for training dogs to guide on busy streets, are among important features of the school that is also home to Guide Dogs’ fundraising in the North, volunteering support across the UK, and the Greater Manchester District Team.

It replaces the previous building in Bolton which was in use for 50 years.

Chief Executive Richard Leaman said: “I am delighted to see this new centre opened. Guide dogs have been trained in the North of England since 1931 and thousands of people have given their money and time.

“These new facilities allow us to train more dogs, in better conditions, and at a lower cost than ever before. The direct result of this investment will be more dogs, more partnerships, and more blind and partially sighted people freed from isolation and loneliness.

“I hope we can continue to rely upon the selfless support of our volunteers and donors to enable us to do just that - without them, we simply could not change people's lives the way we do now".

One of the features of the school is a Path of Remembrance – a memorial path in honour of loved ones. Path of Remembrance bricks are available in different sizes for a minimum donation of £500.