A Norwich man whose life was transformed with the help of a four-legged friend is appealing for support for a charity, as new research shows how a hearing dog can help to alleviate the stress, loneliness and depression of coping with deafness.

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Simon Moore, was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, which left him severely deaf and with facial disfigurement.

The 27-year-old said his condition meant he had low self-confidence and he “felt happier shut away from the outside world”.

He said: “Not going out meant not having much of a social life, I didn’t go out and enjoy myself.”

But he applied for a hearing dog, and was introduced to mongrel Foggy, who even helped him to meet his fiancee Vicky Royall.

Mr Moore, who lives in a flat in Norwich, said: “His name is Foggy and he’s now seven years old, on top of all that he’s fantastic. I’ve had him now for just over six years and he really has changed my life. I’m a lot more independent and active, I have a great social life now thanks to him all because when he’s with me I have no problems travelling.

“I work as a British Sign Language tutor and so I get to travel quite a bit and get to meet lots of people.”

National charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, who paired up Simon with Foggy, has released new research into the lives of severely and profoundly deaf people who have had their lives changed by a hearing dog.

The research, conducted by the charity which is celebrating its 30th year, shows that a startling three quarters of recipients (73pc) said that prior to having a hearing dog, they had at some point either felt depressed or suicidal.

In addition, more than four in five recipients (82pc) said that hearing loss had left them feeling lonely while almost the same number (78pc) said that being made to feel isolated was another negative emotion associated with their deafness.

Feelings of stress (71pc), vulnerability (67pc) and also depression (59pc) were also evident prior to recipients being partnered with a hearing dog.

But afterwards, a total of 92pc of those surveyed said that after being partnered with a hearing dog, they felt more secure, while 89pc said that they felt that they were far more approachable when out in public with a hearing dog – identified through its special burgundy jacket – by their side.

The charity hopes the research will help to draw to the public’s attention the huge difference a hearing dog can make to a deaf person’s life and have launched an appeal to raise money, as the current lifetime cost of each hearing dog is around £45,000.

For more information on Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and to donate, go to: www.hearingdogs.org.uk

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