MONDAY: STUART – HEARING DOGS FOR DEAF PEOPLE
We kick off our celebration of Volunteers Week with a nomination from one of our earliest Charity Partners – Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. As well as having hands down the best account on Instagram (seriously, so many dogs!), they also have a committed team of fabulous volunteers. People like Stuart.
Stuart MacDonald is one of those absolutely priceless volunteers who Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is indebted to in such an enormous way, and yet they ask for no thanks nor credit, and go about their volunteering an entirely altruistic way. His involvement with Hearing Dogs has been unwavering for 20 years and over that time Stuart has carved out a unique role, caring for working hearing dogs in Scotland when their deaf recipients need support in any way.
Clare Binns, Northern Partnership Team Leader explains: “Stuart is a massive help to the Partnership Team in Scotland. He’s someone who doesn’t think twice about going the extra mile and will always make himself available at short notice for any emergencies that may arise. He has travelled the length and breadth of Scotland over the years, never claiming for fuel costs or any expense, and always thinking to put the dogs first. He fosters both short-term and long-term visitors and doesn’t even let his holidays get in the way, as lucky hearing dog Rico (who holidayed with Stuart and his wife Mairi last year) can testify!”
Partnership Instructor, Emma Coates, agrees: “Stuart is incredibly helpful and always thinks to communicate anything he’s noticed about how a dog in his care is behaving, any health issues, or diet changes. He’s very generous with his time, and it really seems that nothing is too much trouble. He’s an invaluable member of the Scottish team and someone we can really count on. The many recipients who know Stuart feel reassured their dogs are well looked after by him and Mairi, and some of the more elderly visitors like hearing dog Okall enjoy nothing better than hopping onto Stuart’s lap for an afternoon snooze!”
Never missing an opportunity to promote Hearing Dogs, Stuart even recruited his neighbours and good friends Ann and John Roy to also become volunteers. Partnerships Instructor, Alex McQuiggan, says: “Stuart never tires of his volunteering. Both he and Mairi are kind and considerate people and very well respected locally. Thanks to them, almost the entire community knows about our charity and have a positive impression of Hearing Dogs.”
In Stuart’s own words: “I have had well over a 100 dogs through Allan Road. One or two are regular visitors. One year I had a total of nineteen. I have had three Hearing Dogs at one time; Mairi is a saint!! Some like Okall have been with me more times than I care to remember. Okall is now coming up 12 and she normally comes twice a year. One or two dogs have been with me for up to three months. I had one Lab called Keeper, he was with me for a total period of over a year. The recipient of Keeper was not only profoundly deaf but he had mental health problems. When things got on top of him, Keeper came to me. Sometimes Keeper would be with me for three to four months while Simon, the recipient, got some help. This will give you some idea of what I think of the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. I am known in the area as the Hearing Dog man – What an honour.”
The Break: The Imperial Hotel, Llandudno
“A big thank you to Hearing Dogs, Room to Reward and to the Imperial Hotel Llandudno for making our visit so memorable What a superb hotel it is. We are heading back home tomorrow after visiting our two daughters who live and work in Manchester. Next week I have a Hearing Dog coming, she is with us until the 14th December Have no dogs over Xmas but have another one coming at the beginning of January No rest for the wicked! Once again, many thanks to Geoff Lofthouse and team at the hotel, Room to Reward and Hearing Dogs.”
Stuart – Hidden Hero, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People