A SHOP boss has organised training for staff to help blind customers after seeing members of her family cope in a world without sight.

BHS in Crompton Place Shopping Centre has joined forces with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association under its newly established Open For Business initiative.

Workers will be trained to become the “eyes” of shoppers, an idea that comes from Ann Blair, commercial manager at BHS, whose mother-in-law, Bet, has been blind since she was 20.

Mrs Blair said: “My mother-in-law lost her sight due to retinitis pigmentosa, a disease in which there is damage to the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye.

“It is genetic and another family member has also lost his sight to the condition and has a guide dog.

“I learned how to take Bet shopping, talking to her about the colour of the clothes and the shape of shoes.

“It can be hard to describe colours and so I follow the charity’s advice to use textures and tastes instead. So white is fluffy and blue is icy. And yellow is like tasting a lemon.”

BHS has also launched a drive to raise money for the charity which has a state-of-the-art training centre in Atherton. Sponsored dog walks are planned for the summer and a dog-shaped collection point has been delivered to the store’s restaurant for people to drop in their loose change.

The store is aiming to raise enough money over the coming year to have the honour of naming one of the new Guide Dog puppies.

Malcolm Angus, Crompton Place manager, said: “It is heartwarming to hear of the efforts staff will be going to at BHS to ensure the best possible level of service for all their customers.”

Later in the year, Mrs Blair is planning a doggie sponsored walk, with pets belonging to staff striding out to raise cash for the charity — and one could even win its owner six months’ worth of dog food.

She said: “We will also be putting collection boxes by the tills. I know people will give generously to this cause.”

Diane Moore, community fundraiser for the Guide Dogs for the Blind, added: “We're delighted BHS in Crompton Place has chosen Guide Dogs as its charity of the year.

“We’re really looking forward to working together to raise funds and awareness for the charity.”