The Derek Freeman Scholarship

Derek Freeman Ireson kneeling next to a yellow lab.

In a career with the United Kingdom’s Guide Dogs for the Blind Association spanning 30 years, Derek was responsible for the breeding, rearing and training of some 20,000 puppies, raising the Association’s level of success to unprecedented heights. His achievements, which were recognized through his induction as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), are legendary both within and outside the guide dog movement.

Derek Freeman was a great friend and advisor to both Bill Thornton (British Columbia Guide Dogs) and Paul Keymer (Minnesota Guide Dog Breeding Centre). In recognition of Derek’s extraordinary contribution to the guide dog movement, Paul and Bill established the Derek Freeman Scholarship to remember his kindness, generosity and enormous talent in the discipline of guide dog breeding and puppy-raising. In 2006, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association were generous financial supporters of the Derek Freeman Scholarship and also hosted the first scholarship recipient organization, the South African Guide Dog Association, at Tollgate House Breeding Centre.

Granting Guidelines

The Derek Freeman Scholarship supports the practical application and academic endeavours in the practice of canine breeding and puppy-raising programs undertaken by accredited and applicant organisations of the International Guide Dog Federation.

Grants from the scholarship will be in the range of £2,000 to £2,500. The scholarship encourages cost-sharing or matching funds from the applicant or third-party sources. Grant applications will open 4 to 6 months prior to the IGDF conferences

Funding from the scholarship will provide support for travel, accommodation and study at host organizations assisting with the applicant’s continued education in the field of guide dog breeding and puppy-raising.

Recent Recipients of the Derek Freeman Scholarship

  • 2016, Croatia – Irish Guide Dogs for The Blind – Ireland
  • 2016, Croatia – Eyes on For Paws Foundation – Bulgaria
  • 2016, Croatia – Guide-Dogs Association S. Africa – South Africa
  • 2016, Croatia – Huikuang Guide Dog Foundation – Taiwan
  • 2016, Croatia – Guide Dogs NSW/ACT – Australia
  • 2016, Croatia – Hong Kong Guide Dog Association – Hong Kong
  • 2016, Croatia – Guide Dogs UK – United Kingdom
  • 2018, Sydney – Guide Dogs Tasmania – Australia
  • 2018, Sydney – Guide Dogs Victoria – Australia
  • 2018, Sydney – Hong Kong Seeing Eye Association – Hong Kong
  • 2018, Sydney – Guide Dogs SA & NT – Australia
  • 2018, Sydney – Slovakia & Hungary Joint Venture -Slovakia & Hungary
  • 2023, Vancouver – The Danish Association of the Blind – Denmark
  • 2023, Vancouver – Leader Dogs for the Blind – USA
  • 2023, Vancouver – Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs – Australia
  • 2023, Vancouver – See Differently, Royal Society for the Blind – Australia
  • 2023, Vancouver – Guide Dogs Western Australia/Tasmania -Australia