Hearing dog gives a former police officer from Dereham a new lease on life

Geraldine Winhall from Dereham suffered hearing loss which ended her career in the police force. Pic

Geraldine Winhall from Dereham suffered hearing loss which ended her career in the police force. Pictured with her hearing dog Bella. Pictures: Hearing Dogs for Deaf People - Credit: Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

A hearing dog has helped a former police officer from Dereham get a new lease on life after loss of hearing ended her career.

Geraldine Winhall from Dereham suffered hearing loss which ended her career in the police force. Pi

Geraldine Winhall from Dereham suffered hearing loss which ended her career in the police force. Pictures: Hearing Dogs for Deaf People - Credit: Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

Geraldine Winhall had been working as a custody officer but noticed that her hearing had begun to suffer after a series of ear infections.

Eventually she found herself struggling to perform effectively in a job that was already a big challenge.

She said: 'The public needs people who can protect it. Without my hearing, I simply could not do this. So, when my deafness became worse, in 2007, I had to leave. I felt as if my deafness had caused my life to stop.

'I just felt so uncertain all the time. I would mishear people, and they would get irritated or angry with me. It was very upsetting. I still remember the time, at the train station, when I didn't know there was an announcement. I kept talking to my sister, so a lady started shouting at me to be quiet. My sister explained to her that I was deaf, but the damage was done. I felt so humiliated.'

Geraldine Winhall from Dereham suffered hearing loss which ended her career in the police force. Pic

Geraldine Winhall from Dereham suffered hearing loss which ended her career in the police force. Pictured with her hearing dog Bella. Pictures: Hearing Dogs for Deaf People - Credit: Archant

Her lack of independence caused her to lose confidence in herself and feel isolated, issues which are common among people who lose their hearing, and this led depression.

But she overcame it when a therapist recommended contacting the charity, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People who matched her with a hearing dog named Bella.

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She said: 'Since having Bella by my side, I don't feel lonely, or depressed, or frightened. I feel confident in leaving the house, because people see Bella's burgundy coat, and they know I'm deaf. Instead of treating me like an inconvenience, people now come up to me and make conversation. They go out of their way to be helpful, and talk clearly to enable me to lip read.

'It's a total transformation at home too. For example, I don't have to wait at the window when I'm expecting people to visit. Instead, Bella hears the doorbell, gives me a little nudge with her nose, and leads me to the door.'

The charity currently has 930 hearing dog partnerships across the country and all of the dogs are trained with the help of volunteers and donations. They are now aiming to increase the number of dogs they train each year to 200 a year by 2020.

To donate to the charity you can visit their website.

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