Schoolboy and hearing dog duo’s partnership wins national award

Daniel Jillings picks up his award. Picture: PAUL WILKINSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Daniel Jillings picks up his award. Picture: PAUL WILKINSON PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Paul Wilkinson

The heart-warming partnership of a Suffolk schoolboy and his faithful dog has received special recognition as part of a national award scheme.

Daniel Jillings and his mum, Anne, meet the Princess Royal. Picture: PAUL WILKINSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Daniel Jillings and his mum, Anne, meet the Princess Royal. Picture: PAUL WILKINSON PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Paul Wilkinson

Daniel Jillings, 11, and Labrador Varley were selected as winners of the Young Partnership of the Year in the Hearing Dog Awards.

The event, led by the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People charity, recognises dogs and their owners for acts of heroism or community involvement.

Charity patron, the Princess Royal presented the trophy to Daniel and Varley at a London ceremony, hosted by TV presenter Rachel Riley and attended by supporters Ben Fogle and Penny Lancaster.

Three-year-old Varley was acknowledged for giving Daniel independence and confidence, while taking away the stress and anxiety that deafness can bring.

Daniel Jillings with Varley and Ben Fogle. Picture: PAUL WILKINSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Daniel Jillings with Varley and Ben Fogle. Picture: PAUL WILKINSON PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Paul Wilkinson


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In particular, Daniel experienced debilitating sleepless nights, which left him exhausted.

But, with Varley by his bedside, he now enjoys peaceful and reassured sleep, leaving him feeling like a different child, much more able to concentrate at school, and making family life all the more enjoyable.

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Daniel’s mum, Anne, said: “Daniel previously suffered terrible nights with a sense of isolation and a debilitating fear of going to bed alone in the family house.

“He used to get very scared at night when everyone else was downstairs, but from the moment we had Varley, things changed. Within days, he was sleeping properly.”

Daniel added: “When Varley arrived it was so much better. I felt safe. I could lie down in bed and know that he was near me.

“I don’t have hearing aids, so people think I can hear and they just talk at me. When Varley arrived, and was out wearing his uniform, people then realised I was deaf.

“Sometimes, if I go into a shop and pay, the people will sign ‘thank you’ to me. They see Varley and they know that I’m deaf. I feel so proud of Varley.”

The charity’s chief executive, Michele Jennings, said: “We are always so humbled by the stories we hear during the nomination process for this special awards event.

“It’s a great opportunity to applaud individuals and their canine best friends for the way they live their lives together as part of a very special partnership.”

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