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A Special Home Help

Children from Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery School welcomed a very special home help to their school. 

Odell, a Yorkshire Terrier/Poodle mix, was there with her owner Anne Holmes to receive a cheque for £285.33 on behalf of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. The money was raised from collections taken at the end of the school’s pre-Christmas events. 

Odell was also accompanied by the charity’s South Team Manager Gill Yeates. The cheque was presented during a special assembly at the school led by Head Teacher Nicola Cushion. 

The children heard how the charity will soon be celebrating its 30th anniversary and trains dogs from puppies to respond to specific noises and alarms in the house from door bells and oven timers to morning alarms and smoke detectors.   

“Every day sounds such as the phone ringing can be very difficult to cope with for deaf people. We train dogs to hear for them. The puppies spend a year getting used to everyday sounds and then they are matched up with people,” Gill Yeates said, adding that the dogs are trained to behave in different ways to different noises. 

“Sometimes when people are deaf others can think they are rude when they don’t respond. With one of our dogs the barriers are often broken down,” Gill said adding that as well as being able to respond to noises the dogs have to be friendly and enjoy being around people. The dogs also have annual tests to ensure that they are up to the task 

Anne Holmes, who comes from Dereham, explained to the youngsters that she was born deaf: 

“Without hearing aids I cannot hear anything and that’s where Odell comes in,” she said. 

The decision to hold collections for the charity following Christmas events came jointly from Mrs Cushion and staff member Jo Adcock who has been learning sign language as a hobby. 

There are currently about 12 working dogs in Norfolk, half of which are with deaf people in the Norwich area. 

The charity is always on the look out for more volunteers and fund-raisers. Anybody interested in supporting it can visit the web site at www.hearingdogs.org.uk or contact Gill Yeates at gill.yeates@hearingdogs.org.uk