A BROADWAY woman who lost all her self-confidence when she lost her hearing 35 years ago has been honoured with a top award.
Merleen Watson and her hearing dog Grace won Volunteer of the Year Award at this year’s annual Hearing Dogs Awards which were held in Central London last Wednesday (October 8).
Losing her hearing cost Merleen her confidence and self-esteem and the 67-year-old is now profoundly deaf, and has learnt to rely on lip reading to communicate with others.
But three years ago, Merleen made the decision to volunteer for Hearing Dogs and the move has given her a new lease of life.
The caring pensioner speaks to groups of people about the work of the charity in the local community and also helps to organise fund-raising events.
Merleen has raised a staggering £3,000 in the last year alone and she said volunteering had had a huge impact on her life.
“Deafness makes you feel less valuable as a person, but volunteering for Hearing Dogs gets me out into the local community.” she said.
“I can use the skills that I’ve developed over a long period of work for a good cause, and meet new people at the same time.”
Last year, Merleen’s life was enriched further when she received her hearing dog Grace, a black Cocker Spaniel who now accompanies her to all her talks and events.
“When I lost my hearing my self-esteem plummeted, but Grace has transformed all that. “Volunteering for Hearing Dogs has hugely helped with my confidence, and now that I have Grace I feel so much more self-assured when I’m out and about at the
“People love meeting Grace, she is a very special girl. She is life-changing to me, and a friend to all those who meet her.” she added.
The Hearing Dogs Awards, hosted by celebrity ambassador Tim Vincent, celebrated some of the inspirational partnerships between hearing dogs and deaf people.
Visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk or follow @hearingdogs on Twitter for more information about the charity.