A very happy Christmas for 10-year-old Daniel, who conquered his nighttime fear with help from hearing dog, Varley
While many children will be restless tonight for all the excitement of Christmas, one Suffolk boy will sleep soundly for the first time in years.
Nighttime used to be a scary prospect for Daniel Jillings until his hearing dog, Varley, became his bedside companion.
In previous years, 10-year-old Daniel, from Lowestoft, had been too exhausted to enjoy the special day. But he now sleeps comfortably, knowing that Varley is by his side.
With its Christmas Appeal, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is hoping to transform the lives of more deaf children experiencing the same fear as Daniel, who was born deaf and communicates by sign language.
He was unable to sleep for fear of not hearing his mum about the house; of missing the smoke alarm sounding, and not being able to detect background noises that provide comfort to children at bedtime. It left him exhausted, and significantly affected his quality of life, ability to concentrate at school, self-confidence, self-esteem and general health.
His mum, Ann, said: “Daniel needed constant reassurance. It was hard for him – as he was so scared of going to bed – and heart-breaking for the rest of the family.
“It could take two hours to settle him, and then he would wake up many times during the night. Daniel was exhausted and so was I.
“But now he has Varley, and when it’s bedtime, Daniel is so relaxed and happy. He just gives me a kiss and signs ‘good night, mum. Me and Varley are going to bed’.
“If Daniel wakes up in the night, he knows Varley is there, and when his alarm goes off in the morning, Varley wakes him up by putting his paws on the bed.
“Daniel is like a different child. His quality of life has dramatically increased thanks to Hearing Dogs and Varley.”
Daniel said: “I feel safe with Varley around. I’m not going to miss my alarm. I’m with him, not on my own.
“The best Christmas present for me would be for more deaf children to have a hearing dog to help them just like Varley helps me.”
See Daniel and Varley’s appeal at hearingdogs.org.uk/helping-deaf-people/stories/daniel-varley.