Hearing Dogs for Deaf People's Cheshire Fundraising Branch held its 12th annual fundraiser around the grounds of Arley Estate near Northwich. When all the sponsorship money is collected, they expect the three mile walk will have raised more than £2,500.
Over the 12 years this fundraiser has now topped more than £40,000 – the cost of supporting a hearing dog for the lifetime of its partnership with a severely or profoundly deaf adult or child, from breeding, training and placement through to the dog's retirement years.
Tatton MP Esther McVey took part in the walk.
She said: “These dogs can change the lives of people who have hearing difficulties, a sense which many of us take for granted. The people who train the dogs are fantastic and put in many hours to ensure the dog has all the skills needed to support the deaf owner and keep them safe.
“It is a great charity and I was delighted to be invited to attend the event. Not only did they raise a great amount of money but it was an opportunity to show just how special these dogs are and how much difference they make to their recipients.”
Branch Treasurer Terry Webb, who was one of the walk's founders, has been involved with the group for 14 years. He said: “After having rain all day on Saturday we were very anxious about this year’s walk as more than 50 people had pre-booked. It was a huge relief that the day stayed dry and we even saw some welcome glimmers of sunshine.
“We reached a really exciting milestone and it is a great satisfaction to know that we have raised enough to enable the charity to create one more life changing partnership. Deafness is an invisible disability and a terribly isolating condition. Having a hearing dog brings independance, confidence and companionship for its deaf partner."
Dogs are given free of charge to a deaf person who simply pays for the animal’s food, insurance and upkeep. All other costs are met by the charity which relies entirely on voluntary income. Events like this walk are valuable not only for the income they produce but also for raising awareness of the charity's work.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People use Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles and mixed breed Cockapoos, breeds that have been found to have the traits needed to become perfect hearing dogs.