Volunteers of the Month - February 2019 - Clare & Mike Coote

Posted by Victoria Leedham

It’s fair to say we’d be completely lost without Clare and Mike as part of the Hearing Dogs family. Since signing up over six years ago, they’ve done an exceptional amount both individually and as a couple. They’re involved with dog training, speaking, fundraising and it’d be a rare day one of our publications doesn’t feature a picture or quote from them – they’ve both been so exceptionally amenable to PR activity and representing the charity at every level from local junior schools to high-level corporate engagement.

Clare, supported by Mike, is a very talented volunteer dog trainer and since announcing she never likes to be left “dogless” she never has, to the point where there’s mostly two dogs in training chez Coote!

Senior dog trainer Katie Grundy says: “Clare and Mike are amazing volunteers, working tirelessly with the puppies in their care to ensure that they are the best that they can be as future hearing dogs. They are 100% committed, and without volunteers like them we would not be able to do the work we do. I don't think Clare has ever missed a puppy class, they will even arrange their holidays around them!

Clare was one of the first volunteers to get involved with the soundwork trial with Golden Retriever Gary and has become a really great dog trainer. She often solves any issues with the puppy or dog in her care before I even get chance to speak to her. She has also given help and encouragement to other volunteers in class who may need it, which is fantastic, as it has enabled other people to have the courage and motivation to carry on with their training.”

Mike is literally our poster boy for requesting a volunteer speaker! He has very senior experience in business and the charity sector, yet a wonderful way of engaging with all types of audience and pitching his talk accordingly. His lovely manner and ready smile make him very popular among the staff and volunteer community. He’s become a stalwart of the South Bucks Fundraising Group but goes much further – both metaphorically and physically – in promoting Hearing Dogs.

No request is too small from counting 50 pence pieces from a school dress-down day to launching a charity Christmas card shop in Beaconsfield. The Cootes and their current dog-in-training are always kind enough to be the face of Hearing Dogs, accepting cheques and being photographed for numerous press pieces.

They’ve been involved with our puppy sponsorship scheme with puppy Hunter and, as usual, went over and above to be as helpful and thoughtful to his sponsors as possible. Brendan Cooper, Copywriter, reports: “Clare sent through the most fantastic photos of Hunter for his Puppy Pen, and really helped document his life for his sponsors. The shots of him with fellow trainee Cooper were absolutely brilliant and got a great reaction.”

Jo Wengler, Fundraising Relationships Manager, is equally delighted to have the Cootes’ support: “Clare and Mike have really gone the extra mile with their visits to Casper, then Cooper’s corporate sponsor Carmichael. They instantly understood the importance of the relationship and did everything they could, which was an awful lot, to ensure the whole team there were delighted with the tie-up.”

Most importantly though the couple have engendered wonderful relationships with the deaf partners of the dogs they’ve trained, each of whom have received a beautiful, bound book of their puppyhoods put together by Clare.

Lisa Kearney, now partnered with Hunter, says: “Clare has been a massive support since I have been matched with Hunter. She and Mike do so much for the charity, and I can’t thank them enough for the role they played in Hunter’s life before coming to me. I honestly believe I have made true friends, it is lovely to hear about Hunter’s past and to be able to share his future.”

Clare and Mike do everything with style and unconditional love for the charity and our dogs. Only the other week, they were ambushed by Teddington (one of their ex-trainees) in The Grange restaurant here as he was excitedly and delightedly reunited. Ted was clearly over the moon to see them, and the feeling was most definitely mutual!

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About the author

Victoria Leedham

Hello, I’m Victoria and the Volunteering Manager at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. We refer to our volunteers as the Hearing Dogs ‘family’ and really mean it; hopefully some of my blog posts here will explain why!

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