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January 28 2014.

Sarah Playforth with husband Charles and their Hearing dog Eve Cockerpoo, (Cocker Spaniel and Miniature Poodle cross), visited the Rotary Club of Seaford recently to give a talk about Hearing Dogs. 

We start to lose some hearing by the age of 40 and one in six people in the UK has some hearing loss. 

In 1979 Bruce Fogle, father of Ben, saw a Hearing Dog scheme in the USA, and over  the next couple of years a scheme for the UK was devised and launched at Crufts 1982 in conjunction with several businesses, charities and organisations.

In the following year, from the Charity's south east headquarters, the first hearing dog, Lady, was placed. In 1999 a second centre was opened in the north of England thanks to the BBC Lifeline appeal.

In 1992 HRH The Princess Royal became Patron of the Charity, and she continues to support the Charity today.

Dogs are obtained from the Charity's own kennel Club Accredited breeding scheme, from obtaining puppies from reputable breeders, from members of the public, and a small number from rescue centres. The recruits go to puppy socialising with volunteers from about eight weeks old until around 12 months. Next they begin their training to qualify as a hearing dog, with careful matching between the dog and recipient. After this the human/canine pair spend a week at a training centre, where the required sounds such as door knocker/bell or phone are learned.

The dogs are trained to show a paw or nudge if there is a noise, and then to guide the recipient to the source. In case of emergency such as a fire, they lie flat which is the danger signal.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People trains around 300 dogs per year, and the cost per dog is around £50,000. All money is obtained from the generosity of individuals, groups, companies and other organisations.

Sarah's dog Eve is now approaching retirement - she has some arthritis, so in April she will be replaced. But she will be kept as a pet, a reward for her faithfulness and hard work.

More information visit

Pictured Sarah & Eve by Mike Hemmings.