Volunteer of the Month - September 2019 - Fiona Whitelaw

Posted by Victoria Leedham

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

Franklin's famous quote has never been truer than when thinking of the multi-tasking dynamo that is Fiona Whitelaw!

In addition to her full-time, senior role at Lloyds Banking Group, Fiona finds time to volunteer not only for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, but also as a mentor for small business start-ups and is partnered with a partially sighted person through Guide Dogs’ My Guide scheme. An owner of two dogs herself, she is also wife to Nigel and a grandmother of two.

Suffice as to say Fiona is one busy woman! She is a very active volunteer speaker, giving talks about Hearing Dogs to a wide range of community groups - educating about our work and raising money. In terms of personal giving, she’s a regular puppy sponsor, raffle ticket purchaser and raised considerable sponsorship last year by climbing Snowdon at night. 

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Fiona is also the Secretary of our Cheshire Fundraising Branch and as such involved in every aspect of this group’s activities: from supermarket bucket collections to disability awareness events; from summer fêtes to Christmas fayres; from speaker engagements to the Branch’s annual Arley Woodland Walk.

Community Fundraising Manager, Gaynor Cavanagh says: “Fiona is a dream volunteer. Her commitment is incredible, she never says no – in fact, I think carefully before I contact her sometimes as I’m aware that she will do anything for Hearing Dogs and I don’t wish to take advantage of that. She’s well known for even volunteering on her annual leave days from work!”

On the recent hottest bank holiday on record, Fiona could be found wearing our Hearing Dogs mascot costume and posing for photos with visitors to the Cilcain Show in North Wales as fellow volunteer Lesley Thornton recalls:

“Baking 30c heat did not stop Fiona from donning the furry mascot suit and working the show ground. She was melting, but undeterred!”

Lesley continues: “I have nothing but admiration and respect for Fiona and all the volunteering she does for Hearing Dogs. In looking after Cheshire's Ambassador Dog Abney, myself and my husband Mark like to think we do our bit, but at every event we go to we find Fiona there before us and there long after we leave - setting up, packing away, as well as dishing out smiles and hugs throughout the day - all whilst holding down her own full time job.”

Volunteer Dog Trainers Caroline & Terry Roeves agree: “Fiona has a smile to light up the world, gumption by the bucket full and enthusiasm coming out of her ears! She never lets anyone down and will happily tackle and accomplish any job, however small.”

Ruth Allen and her hearing dog Iker are also fans: “We often accompany Fiona when she’s speaking to groups. She’s incredibly knowledgeable, polite and efficient, and makes the talks especially fun and interactive for children.”

Fiona is genuinely touched and motivated by the Charity’s belief that no deaf person should feel alone. When volunteering with partnerships she has witnessed first hand the positive impact a hearing dog can have on reducing isolation and loneliness.

We hope Fiona realises her personal impact on those around her too. She’s a very warm, inspiring and generous lady, as Gaynor sums up: “We are so lucky to have Fiona as a volunteer. All of our supporters and beneficiaries in the Cheshire area are familiar with Fiona’s welcoming smile - a smile so big it is matched only by the size of her heart.”

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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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