I AM now into my third year as a trustee of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a wonderful charity, and following on from the success of last year’s, decided to hold another Charity Golf Day at Bigbury Golf Club in South Devon.
Last May we raised about £2,500 which is about half the amount needed for the final training of one of these dogs after its year or so of being socialised, and if I recall correctly, the headline on the report in last year’s Veterinary Practice referred to the need to complete the dog!
So we set out again to repeat the feat at the end of May this year of trying to raise at least another £2,500 for the other half of one of these amazing dogs which are the ears of a deaf person.
We all see these dogs from time to time in our surgeries, as we do Guide Dogs also, and I trust that the majority of us provide our time free for them. They are amazing dogs who totally change the life of a deaf person lucky enough to have one – and the demand outstrips the supply.
They learn to react to different sounds in different ways. For instance, if the doorbell rings, they paw at the owner who asks them “what” with a spread of the hands, and the dog leads them to the door; similarly to a timer alarm, a person calling them, a baby alarm, etc. If a smoke alarm or other similar alarm sounds, the dog, instead of leading to the source of the sound, drops “dead” at their feet, warning them of the danger.
The day was 28th May, and by the time this is published readers will know whether we are having a scorching summer as promised. Whether we do or not we will look back to the May Bank Holiday weekend which immediately followed our golf day as a glorious period of hot, cloudless days, and our golf day was no exception.
Bigbury has to be one of the most beautiful cliff top and estuary courses in the country and the golfers were not disappointed with either the condition of, or the views around, the course. It was spectacular.
Even with the recession biting, 19 teams of three golfers paid to enter and take part, and the day was again supported by some wonderful local and veterinary companies which sponsored both golf and raffle prizes and the various holes around the course. The day would not have been anywhere near as successful without them.
Bigbury Golf Club, especially Nigel Blenkarne, the director of golf, and his business partner, Tracy Loveys, the club golf pro, were very helpful both in advance and on the day.
The first golfers teed off at 10.30am after a bacon bap and coffee, and subsequent teams followed on and off until 2.30pm. Meanwhile, a putting competition on the putting green, sponsored and run by Helen Bowman of Bayer Animal Health, was being hotly contested as the winner of the longest putt was to receive a £50 voucher to spend in the pro shop!
Anyone who knows the enthusiastic Helen will not be surprised to hear that at £1 for two balls, it raised about £140. The starting line was moved back three feet every time someone holed the putt, and by the day’s end the winner, Steve Kent of Bigbury, had holed out from about 25 feet.
Gordon Vallance, Hearing Dogs’ director of fundraising and marketing, and Janine Sargent, the SW regional coordinator, took control of the administration, booking in and checking all the completed golf cards, which was a great help. This meant that this year I could actually play – in the Veterinary Hospital Group team from Plymouth, along with Sheila, the practice office manager and her husband. We didn’t win anything but had an enjoyable round!
Three Hearing Dogs and a puppy arrived, all with their owners, and were very well behaved both in the clubhouse and around the putting green for several hours.
By 2pm the first golfers began to come in having finished their rounds and were treated to the club’s excellent buffet.
The Hearing Dogs staff were very efficient at selling raffle tickets – not surprising considering the quality of the donated prizes: a Nikon Coolpix digital camera from Animalcare, a Touredge Driver from Dunlops, six months free food for a dog or cat from Hill’s, a signed shirt from Plymouth Argyle, £100 or so of vouchers from each of two local restaurants, four local golf clubs offered free rounds of golf, two vouchers for meat from a local butcher, a lambskin rug from our own Welsh Blacks, as well as bottles of wine and spirit.
The prize giving was at 7pm and although teams such as Fort Dodge Animal Health (who entered two teams as well as sponsoring a hole) had come from as far away as Southampton, it was a local team from Ivybridge who won for the second year running – Ian Roper’s team from Autotrim!
Their 1st prize was a pair of Footjoy golf shoes each sponsored by Petplan; the 2nd prize, a pencil golf case each donated by Merial Animal Health, was won by a team from Bigbury Golf Club; and the 3rd prize, a hybrid club each donated by Keith Dickinson of the Veterinary Insurance Agency, by vets Peter Gripper and Peter Morley, with John Hanley from Fort Dodge. The nearest the pin prize, donated by Phil Swan of Hazlewoods Accountants, was won by Paul Bower, my brother who, playing off five, usually wins something.
The generous sponsors of the five golf holes made a massive difference to the success of the day and deserve a special mention: Fort Dodge; Gill Akaster Solicitors, Plymouth; Venture Wealth Management, Liskeard; Town & Country Lettings, Plymouth; and The Veterinary Hospital Group, Plymouth.
The combination of unbelievable sponsorship, the 57 golfers who took part, the generosity of those who bought the raffle tickets, the welcome and help from Bigbury Golf Club made it a marvellous day and when all the bills are paid it looks like we will have indeed raised at least the £2,500 needed to pay for the other half of the dog!
■ If other veterinary golfers consider putting on such a day for Hearing Dogs at their own golf clubs, John Bower will be happy to provide a helpful template.