Volunteers of the Month - June 2020 - Hilary & Jim Miller

Posted by Victoria Leedham

Sometimes it feels important to shine a light on those volunteers who go quietly about their business, diligently helping behind the scenes without fuss or desire for recognition.

These are the types of volunteer that can weather any storm and have resilience running through their veins – even when faced with a pandemic of the scale we’ve all witnessed this year with Coronavirus.

Two such volunteers in the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People community are Hilary & Jim Miller, from Market Weighton in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Not only do they have a long history of volunteering with Hearing Dogs, Hilary is very active with All Saints church within the parish and has truly gone the extra mile to help others during lockdown and these recent challenging times.

The Millers.jpg

Vicky Croser, Senior Dog Trainer, explains: “As well as volunteering for Hearing Dogs Hilary is involved with her local WI, walking and craft groups and especially All Saints church in Market Weighton. She is the epitome of a "good neighbour" who gets involved in the community and helps those around her.”

In normal times, the church’s Friday coffee mornings are central in encouraging the market town to come together. Hilary has always ensured that hearing dogs-in-training have been welcome too. It’s as delightful as it sounds, but the environment also plays an important part in training – teaching our dogs to settle quietly in public spaces.

Vicky continues: “I’ve often gone along with dogs-in-training and had a cup of tea on a Friday. It’s clear Hilary is a relied upon member of the church, getting involved with all their fundraising and community activity. When she became a volunteer with husband Jim seven years ago, it was natural for her to bring her interests together. She regularly introduces friends to Hearing Dogs through our Thursday Tours and open days; some of whom have gone on to become supporters of the charity in their own right.”

“During lockdown Hilary has been keeping herself busy in other ways, making valuable use of her crafting skills. She has been thoughtfully knitting 'face mask straps' for NHS staff at Nottingham City Hospital (where one of their daughters works) who were getting sore ears from wearing their surgical masks for such long hours. 

“I know Hilary would barely think to mention the shopping and errands she’s done for neighbours who have been unwell or frightened to go out. Helping others just comes naturally to her.”

Hilary & Jim are currently looking after black Labrador Nancy on our Training from Home scheme. Nancy following in the footsteps of Pip, Ollie, Cookie, Gwinny, Lulu and Isla who have all been lucky enough to be cared for by the Millers since they joined Hearing Dogs as volunteers in 2013.

Dog Welfare Officer James Jones says “It’s a pleasure to work with Hilary and Jim. They look after every dog in their care really well; there’s never any issue. Hilary is helpfully clear in any communication and Jim has a great sense of humour.”

Hayley Simpson, Team Leader, has known the couple since day one of their volunteering; “It’s great that Hilary and Jim are happy to go with the flow when we visit their home to train dogs, like Nancy, in situ. Far from being phased by us setting off sounds and creating ‘real life' scenarios for the dogs to work around, Hilary will regularly be the ‘training assistant’ and get thoroughly involved.”

“They’re both real dog lovers and felt joining Hearing Dogs would be a great way to have a dog in their lives, support a worthwhile charity and retain flexibility to get out and about during retirement doing their many and varied activities, as well as visiting their four adult children and their families.”

“Hilary is a lovely lady with a heart of gold; one of those people who will help in any way she can. She is very modest and probably underestimates the impact she has within the groups she is involved with like Hearing Dogs and All Saints church.”

When crisis hits, people step up. It makes absolutely sense to us that Hilary was one of those who immediately thought of others and used her skills to make a worthwhile and appreciated contribution to NHS workers and the response to the Coronavirus crisis.

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About the author

Victoria Leedham

Hello, I’m Victoria and Head of Volunteering at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. It’s my privilege to celebrate and share stories about our wonderful volunteer family.

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