Hundreds to gather at Waddesdon Manor for the Great British Dog Walk

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The Great British Dog Walk, a popular charity walk run by national assistance dog charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, is back for a ninth year and is returning to Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury on 28 April 2024.

Hundreds of walkers, and dogs of all shapes and sizes, will be taking part to have fun, meet like-minded people and support Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, the charity that trains dogs to alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds.

The walk is sponsored by Specsavers Audiologists, helping Hearing Dogs to raise more funds to change the lives of deaf people.

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On the day there will be two walk options – either 5km or 3km routes, making it ideal for dog owners, families, single walkers, organised walking groups and those who simply want to meet lots of dogs and get a bit of exercise for a good cause.

The Great British Dog Walk at Waddesdon ManorThe Great British Dog Walk at Waddesdon Manor
The Great British Dog Walk at Waddesdon Manor

The walk at Waddesdon Manor will also feature fun additional activities, including a cake sale with homemade cakes provided by the charity’s incredible volunteers. A free dog bandana is included with every adult ticket.

It costs around £40,000 to fully train and support a hearing dog for the duration of its life and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People receives no government funding so every walker will be helping to create more life-changing partnerships - like 16-year-old Zach and his hearing dog Echo.

Before he was partnered with Echo, Zach struggled to get to sleep every night. His mum Kirsty explained: “Zach said that if he closed his eyes without his hearing aids in, he might not see or hear a burglar. He couldn’t hear us moving around the house, so he felt really alone in the dark.

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“He started going to bed with his hearing aids in. Then he wanted music on. Then a light. Then he wanted someone with him in his room. Soon he began to experience night terrors.

Zach with his hearing dog EchoZach with his hearing dog Echo
Zach with his hearing dog Echo

“Every day felt like a fight for survival. It affected everything, day in, day out. He would just about make it through a school day, with no energy for after-school clubs or sports activities.”

Then, just before his eighth birthday, Zach was partnered with hearing dog Echo – a life-changing yellow Labrador.

“In came this big bundle of yellow fur, a big, friendly presence that just seemed to make the room feel ‘safe’ somehow”, explained Kirsty.

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“That night, out went the hearing aids, the music and the lights. Zach didn’t need them. He said, “Echo will keep me safe,” and that was the end of that!

“Zach is now 16. He has already sat his first GCSE and will sit the remainder over the next couple of months, ending up with a full nine GCSEs. Prior to Echo’s arrival this would never have been possible as Zach wasn’t getting enough sleep to concentrate in a classroom to the level needed to access a full curriculum.

“Zach doesn’t remember much about life without Echo, but we do. We still remember the huge impact on our whole family and the immense amount of confidence Echo has given him.”

Carina Hummel, Managing Director at Specsavers Audiology, which sponsors the Great British Dog Walk, said: “This event is an excellent way for people to have fun, get some exercise, meet like-minded people and perhaps most importantly, meet lots of cute dogs while supporting a good cause.

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“If every person who took part in the Great British Dog Walk raised just £10 by getting themselves or their dog sponsored, the charity could train another dog like Echo to alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds that they would otherwise miss and help them to leave loneliness behind.

“We’re so proud of our involvement in the Great British Dog Walk and the fact that it helps to transform the lives of deaf people like Zach. We’re very much looking forward to the walks and hope lots of people in each area will come along and show their support.”

There is a free limited-edition Great British Dog Walk dog bandana for each adult ticket purchased for the walk and working hearing dogs and puppies-in-training will be available to meet on the day.

Tickets to each event are £12 in advance or £15 on the day. While sponsorship is not essential, it would be much appreciated to help the charity train more life-changing dogs.

To sign-up to the Great British Dog Walk at Waddesdon Manor, or for more information visit The Great British Dog Walk - Waddesdon Manor (hearingdogs.org.uk)