The annual Hearing Dog of the Year Awards, sponsored by Specsavers Hearing Centres, recognises the extraordinary work of the nation’s hearing dogs in the three award categories of Life-changing, Rescue and Heroic Hearing Dog of the Year. This year’s event was attended by the Charity’s Royal Patron HRH The Princess Royal who presented some of the awards alongside the evening’s host, TV presenter Nick Ross. Other celebrities attending the event were Colin Campbell, Honor Blackman, Tim Vincent, Chris Packham and Meg Mathews.
The winners and runners-up were selected by celebrity judges Camilla Sacre-Dallerup, Pam St Clement and Matt Baker. TV star Rebecca Wilcox presented the Charity’s Desmond Wilcox Volunteer of the Year Award to Liz Arendt in honour of her late father who suffered from hearing loss.
Camilla Sacre-Dallerup, Strictly Come Dancing professional judged the Heroic Hearing Dog of the Year category. Camilla chose joint winners for this year’s award; Bruce a two year old English Pointer from Wiltshire who developed a canny knack of sensing when his insulin-dependent diabetic owner’s insulin levels dropped and alerting him and Lye, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from Worcester, who attracted her owner Nicola’s attention when her daughter was choking which potentially saved her life. Runner-up was Wilma, a Spaniel x Labrador partnered with Lynne (59) from Guernsey. Wilma helped nurse Lynne’s ill daughter by waking Lynne at night when her daughter needed her.
TV presenter Matt Baker judged the Life-Changing category, sponsored by Royal Canin, and chose a very special winner; Thommie from Wiltshire. Tony (46) Thommie’s deaf owner, was born deaf and with cerebral palsy. Having Thommie has enabled Tony to go to work every day and live independently. Tony says “Thommie really deserves this award; he is life-changing.^pHe is my life”.^pRunners-up were; Poppy, a black Labrador from Lincolnshire, partnered with John after he sadly lost his first hearing dog to cancer when the dog was just two and Jingle, a Springer x Cocker Spaniel from Plymouth who provided a new lease of life to Doreen Bell and inspired her to raise thousands of pounds for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People along the way!
Originally from Battersea Dogs Home, Rascal won the Rescue Hearing Dog of the Year. The spirited little Jack Russel was partnered with deaf owner Linda Duckling but recently became ill with an inflammatory brain disease. Rascal is being cared for by the experienced staff at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People until he’s well enough to go back to Linda.
Pam St Clement judged the Rescue category this year and summed up her involvement with the Charity by saying: “Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is a jewel of a charity for me because it provides important benefits for not only humans but animals as well”.
Pam has supported Hearing Dogs for Deaf People for many years, and continues to do so. “Not only does the Charity provide a second chance for rescue dogs by training them to be hearing dogs, it also gives a deaf person a second chance in life by helping overcome the isolation sometimes experienced as a result of becoming deaf” says Pam.
Pam selected Rascal as one of the finalists for the Rescue category says: “It was very difficult picking the one dog above another but there was something about Rascal’s story that made him stand out. Maybe it was his plucky spirit that captured me”, concludes Pam. The two runners-up for the category included, Selva a cross-breed from Essex and Molly, a mongrel from West Yorkshire.
Around 150 VIP guests and friends and family of the hearing dogs and their owners attended the Awards Dinner, which featured short films bringing to life each special dog’s nomination before the winners and runners-up were announced. For more information about the work of the Charity visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk.