LOCAL health service construction manager Matt Hall had plenty to cheer about when he won the top prize of £10,000 in the annual fundraising lottery run by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, writes Mark Entwistle.
But the win was tempered by the knowledge gleaned from working to raise funds for the charity for more than five years that a great many other people still suffer from hearing-related difficulties which blight their lives.
Matt, 60, who works as a construction project manager with NHS Borders, lost his hearing five years ago when he started to suffer from severe Menieres attacks, a disorder of the inner ear that affects hearing and balance. In Matt’s case he also suffered from raging tinnitus – ringing in the ear.
“It has taken me some time to come to terms with the effects of the disease and my family life took a big hit,” Matt said.
“My hobby was football and I was the chairman of Gala Fairydean FC for many years but now I’m just a spectator.”
Matt first came into contact with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People when he attended a self-management course in Edinburgh on how to handle deafness which was also attended by a person who was accompanied by their hearing dog.
Matt continued: “Ever since that day, I’ve tried as hard as I can to raise money for Hearing Dogs and other deaf-related campaigns.
“I have seen the difference a hearing dog makes to a deaf person’s life; providing confidence and independence through alerting them to everyday household sounds and danger signals such as the doorbell and smoke alarm. Hearing dogs also provide valuable companionship.”
Matt has even become the “hearing loop guru” at his workplace, explaining the use of portable hearing loops to fellow staff members and instructing them in their use.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People receives dogs which are donated for training by breeders and members of the public, and when possible they are selected from rescue centres. The charity also has its own breeding scheme.
Hearing Dogs provides a national service and no charge is made to recipients. Since its inception in 1982, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People has placed more than 1,600 hearing dogs. It has about 750 current working partnerships.
Matt says the surprise cash win has motivated him to work harder to promote the work of the charity.
“I was so shocked when I was contacted by Hearing Dogs. I am so pleased that I am the lucky person who has won this fantastic prize. It will make such a difference to my life and I will continue to promote the wonderful work of the charity as much as I can.”