A loyal guide dog who changed her owner's life had more than 900 birthday wishes from fans when she turned nine.

Yellow Labrador Nutmeg, who helps Alan Fletcher retain his independence, is a social media star and helps to promote Guide Dogs.

Among those offering congratulations was MP Robert Buckland who raised £48 in donations to the charity.

Alan said: "She has been my guide dog since October 2013 and has kept me on the straight and narrow since then, she occasionally walks me to the pub but most importantly she brings me back home in a straight line! She is a truly wonderful girl."

The 72-year-old lost his sight at 57 when he developed retinal dystrophy in his left eye. Then around a year later in 2009, he got cancer in his right eye.

His first guide dog Joy gave him back his independence, helping him to get out and about again.

“You’ve got to change your own mindset with things like this. You do think ‘why me?’ and ‘what have I done to deserve this?’ But when you get a guide dog you can go back out again. It keeps you safe, she is absolutely brilliant."

He was heartbroken when he lost her in 2013. "When you don’t have a dog anymore you go back to square one, with a white cane, but it’s not the same as having a dog."

Five months later Nutmeg came into his life. “When I lost Joy, she was eight. They do usually look for a replacement at the age of nine but they had nothing in the pipeline. Because I lost my working guide dog, I went to the top of the priority list. Joy gave me my life back and then getting Nutmeg gave me my life back again."

“Life has changed since I’ve had her. She is wonderful really, she picks up her harness and she’s ready to go."

Nutmeg plays an important part in Alan's efforts to highlight the work of the charity. The pair also educate the public about the issues faced by disabled people, including problems caused by the pandemic like masks muffling spoken commands and the fact dogs don't understand social distancing.

But her fans were delighted to see photos of her with her presents on her birthday.

“Nutmeg and I were pleased to bring a smile to all the friends on Facebook that saw Nutmeg’s pictures," he said. "We all need something to lighten the dreadful times we are going through.

Alan, who has been married to Shirley for 50 years, recently found out his cancer has returned.

He's been having regular checks at Moorfields Eye Hospital but the diagnosis was a shock. In November he underwent proton beam treatment and will have a follow up appointment in April to see if it has made a difference.