Volunteers' Week 2018

Posted by Victoria Leedham

Happy Volunteers' Week! 

It's great to have a special week to recognise the contribution made by volunteers.

The last twelve months have been jolly busy here at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. We have merged with Hearing Link, the doors of The Grange Restaurant & Gift Shop are open and we are helping more deaf people than ever before. None of what has been achieved would have been possible without the support of our generous and happy volunteer family, to whom we are exceptionally grateful.

The theme of this year's Volunteers' Week is 'volunteering for all' so from 1 to 7 June we will be taking the opportunity to celebrate volunteering at Hearing Dogs in all its diversity. Look out for a new volunteer or group of volunteers being introduced on this blog each day as the week progresses...

2,500

volunteers nationwide

1,100

look after and train dogs

820

raise much needed funds

170

help out at our sites

Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution all our volunteers make across the UK. Let's meet a few of them here:

Thank you to all our volunteer mascot wearers

What do they say… you don’t have to be mad to volunteer here, but it helps!

It takes a special someone to don a mascot suit and swelter in the summer sun, but oh what a difference it makes at our national events and local ones too. 

Bruce & Beatrice are our well-loved characters here at Hearing Dogs. Thanks to many fun-loving volunteers they greet and wave at visitors, pose for endless photos and generally add to the happy atmosphere our events are well known for.

Experienced mascot wearers often cannilly come prepared with bottles of water and a volunteer buddy to best avoid the classic walking into a lamp post routine. Otherwise these brilliant volunteers are masters of performance art - entertaining crowds, making real dogs stop in their tracks, posing up a storm and giving it large! 

Thank you to all the volunteer mums of the mums

Spring fever has hit Hearing Dogs! There have been oodles of puppies born over the last couple of months and some very proud Labrador, Spaniel and Poodle parents like beautiful Teaka here.

Teaka gave birth to five future life-changers, four girls (Ester, Zoe, Zeta and Zahra) and one boy (Ziggy) all of whom have been expertly cared for by volunteer Rosemary and husband Denis Edginton.

It's no small undertaking being involved with our breeding scheme and as Rosemary says "each one of these precious bundles takes a little piece of your heart with them" so we would like to especially thank all the human mums and dads who essentially give up months of their lives to nurture the next generation of hearing dogs. 

Thank you to all our volunteer photographers

How lucky Hearing Dogs is to have talented volunteers aplenty!

When not busy having his photos featured on TV weather reports, volunteer Keith Leman is our roving photojournalist across Hampshire. Thanks to Keith, proud dog owners at a number of our Great British Dog Walks received a top quality shot of themselves and their pooch as a great momento of the day.

We have sharp-shooting volunteers similarly covering events elsewhere across the UK, as well as other accomplished volunteers taking photos of our newborn puppies and hearing dog partnerships too. It really is so generous of these brilliant volunteers to cross their semi-professional hobby with their volunteering for Hearing Dogs.

Thank you to all our volunteer families

We couldn't be prouder that volunteering is a family affair for many.

Recipient John Morris, hearing dog Theo, wife Maria and daughter Bernie all represent the Hearing Dogs community fantastically in Leeds. 

It would be difficult to find a more cheerful family and any one of them would tell you what a transformative influence Theo has had on their household. Earlier this year, 'Team Theo' attended Crufts to tell more people about having a hearing dog and volunteering. We all enjoyed their company tremendously; the family teasing and their good humour was completely infectious.

 

Thank you to all our volunteer cake makers

Isn't it great that Britain has gone bonkers for baking!

From fairy buns to tray bakes, a slice of homemade cake goes a surprisingly long way to raising vital funds for Hearing Dogs and the Volunteering Department are only too happy to taste test!

Cake stalls have become a mainstay of our Great British Dog Walks and our Paws for a Coffee events are an ever popular way of getting a group of people together. In both instances, a few hundred pounds are generally made and we can't thank our volunteers enough for cooking up gluten-free and vegan options as well as the classic lemon drizzles and Victoria sponges.

Some of our bakers cater for four-pawed foodies as well, so everyone's happy at Hearing Dogs!

Thank you to all the full-time workers who find time to volunteer

Our Bed & Breakfast volunteer role is one of our most popular. Volunteers local to our centres in Buckinghamshire and East Yorkshire look after dogs-in-training overnight, bring them back to 'school' the next day and collect again at the end of their working day. 

Much as this sounds wonderfully fun, it's no mean feat in reality and Hearing Dogs is immensely grateful to volunteers like Jacqui Magill & Toby Payne who operate like a tag team to ensure the dogs they look after are not left lonesome at the school gates!

May we particularly thank Jacqui for taking the time to so eloquently tell our friends at Community Impact Bucks about the role and what she and Toby have gained from volunteering with us and looking after dogs like Ollie (pictured).

Thank you to all the recipients who give back through volunteering

Only our deaf recipients can truly articulate what it means to have a hearing dog.

On the final day of Volunteers’ Week we’d like to thank all our volunteers like Christine Wright, with hearing dog Jessie, who have chosen to fundraise and very actively spread the word about Hearing Dogs. In speaking to local groups and attending events, awareness is raised and audiences are often very moved to hear first-hand what it’s like to be deaf.

Christine goes about her volunteering with incredible enthusiasm and positivity, particularly coming into her own during the Great British Dog Walk season! Community Fundraising Manager Sophie Meadows says: “Christine & Jessie have dug me out of a hole on many an occasion by being so keen to help - including making me dinner between meetings so I didn't go hungry! Christine is amazing and I am so grateful to have her on my team.”

Our volunteer family is great. Spread the word!

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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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