One of their very own hearing dog partners, Verity Green, has become the first deaf British woman to swim the English Channel, and all in aid of Hearing Dogs.
On Monday 2nd August, Verity made the 21-mile trip across the Channel in an impressive 12 hours and nine minutes.
Swimming the Channel has been a childhood dream for Verity, who swam for Great Britain in the Senior Deaf Team from the age of 12 years old, and at 16 was ranked world number three in her best event.
However, treatment for Meniere’s Disease left her with triple sensory impairment. Not only was Verity deaf, but her balance and vision were now also affected too, and this forced her to end her promising swimming career early having been told she would likely never swim again.
Never one to give up, Verity spent years rehabilitating and then decided to take on this epic 21-mile challenge to raise money to help more hearing dogs get trained.
Speaking about her rehabilitation journey and training for the swim, she said: “Fast-forward 24 years, I have found a way to rehabilitate my brain. I found that swimming outdoors was easier, by removing all the confusing visual input that swimming pools give.
“I thought that just maybe, a childhood dream of swimming the English Channel could be possible. I tried a relay, and my balance coped.
“The pandemic and a very cold winter affected training a lot, but just like rehabilitation with long-term conditions and disability, I had to aim to train smart, rather than hard.
“Rather like crossing the Channel, recovery isn't in a straight line, but many times you can feel like you are going way off course. The important part is to keep going day by day, step by step, stroke by stroke.”
Verity has been a big part of the Hearing Dogs family since she was partnered with Benjy back in 2009. Benjy retired earlier this year and he now shares his home with Verity’s new hearing dog – a very clever and handsome black Labrador named Bow.
She added: "Hearing Dogs have been amazing with me. I am not ‘just deaf’. I have a balance disability and long-term conditions, and they carefully assessed me and looked to match the right dog.
"Having a hearing dog does not just alert me to sounds, but also breaks down barriers between me and others, especially when my balance affects my vision and I need people to make that effort to meet me halfway. It's hard because my disability isn't visible.
“If you saw me, you wouldn’t see any issues. With Bow, people will approach me, and they'll realise I am deaf, so he really helps.
"Both Benjy and Bow have also helped me feel safer being home on my own, especially when I am asleep."
At the time of writing, Verity’s Channel Swim challenge has raised over £6,500 for Hearing Dogs.
A huge thank you, from everyone at Hearing Dogs, to Verity for completing such an amazing challenge – and in such an impressive time. Her kindness, strength, and dedication will help change the lives of other deaf people. We are completely in awe of her.
Photos courtesy of Daz Martin Photography