Volunteer of the Month - October 2019 - Margaret Pearson

Posted by Victoria Leedham

Margaret Pearson began volunteering for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in 2016 after retirement from a career as a secondary school teacher. Luckily for us, she turned her passion for teaching into a passion for dog training and, so far, has trained two hearing dog Spaniels – Opal and Layla – as well as welcoming others into her home on holiday cover.

Training Team Leader, Ailsa Ramage, says: “Being an ex-teacher Margaret works through our ‘puppy star’ training scheme very methodically and with a fantastic sense of humour. She is a very committed volunteer and works hard to get the best out of her dogs. She is a great asset to the whole team, a pleasure to work with and been instrumental in developing Hearing Dogs’ profile in the North East.”

That said, Margaret would hate to be known as some swot of a head girl! She is perhaps best known for her sense of fun, she makes great company, and has an infectiously positive outlook on life.

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Lucy Ward, Community Fundraising Manager, has got to know her well: “Margaret is a total super star! She is always cheerful, full of enthusiasm, continually on the lookout of new opportunities and forever willing to help wherever she can.”

“She is a huge help to the Charity in so many ways and, over the past three years, has not only been a Volunteer Puppy Trainer but also an active Fundraiser and Speaker doing an amazing job of spreading the word, raising funds and recruiting new supporters and volunteers.”

“From taking part in our Great British Dog Walks to running the Great North Run twice, not to mention climbing Snowdon at night, Margaret has proven again and again that she is not afraid of a challenge. She has also raised over £2,000 in sponsorship in the process!”

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Margaret is a great ambassador for Hearing Dogs, chatting to people about the charity wherever she goes. It’s never a surprise when volunteer enquiries come in mentioning a “lovely smiley lady and Spaniel” they’ve met on a bus and elsewhere in County Durham!

Lucy Parkin, Puppy Training Instructor, recalls: “Margaret used to take Opal to bell ringing classes, the theatre, beach, garden centres and service stations – never missing an opportunity to combine training with fundraising and selling Hearing Dogs merchandise.”

“I remember Layla accompanied her to a school for deaf children, which was a particularly well received visit. Margaret is a wonderful lady, does so much for us and always with a smile. Whilst taking a short break from full time puppy training, she still regularly comes to class to help out and meet the new recruits.”

Margaret is rightly proud of the significant part she’s played in Opal and Layla both becoming working assistance dogs helping their deaf partners to leave loneliness behind and reconnect with life. In typically witty fashion, Opal was colloquially renamed McOpal by Margaret when she started her working life in the north of Scotland.

Though we can’t thank Margaret enough for all she does for Hearing Dogs, nothing can supersede the words of Opal’s deaf partner Bert:  

“Thank you for having nurtured this precious little lady. With Opal at my side I very much look forward to the future. She is such a happy little dog, so loving, just adorable. She has the whole family wrapped around all four paws, but as we say in Scotland she is ‘ma wee dug.’ I am her reason for being; she is devoted to me, as I am to her. I call her my wee darling.”

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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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