Hearing dog fundraising wish is fulfilled

The dying wish of a woman who devoted the last five years of her life to fundraising for hearing dogs has been fulfilled.

Anne Holmes, of Dereham, was profoundly deaf, and despite being diagnosed with cancer, she continued to collect money to help others.

EDP readers helped Mrs Holmes exceed her �1,000 fundraising goal after she appeared in the newspaper in May, and she set herself a new target of �2,000 by the end of the year.

The 67-year-old was still about �600 short of her goal when she died in the Priscilla Bacon Lodge in Norwich.

Her husband Frank has carried on collecting money – and revealed the target had been reached thanks to donations, including one from a former Dereham person who now lives in France.

'Thank you very much to everyone,' said Mr Holmes. 'Anne's wishes are fulfilled and everyone has been very generous. I have not had to ask for money and it has just come in voluntarily.'

Mrs Holmes' life was transformed after she received Odell, a Yorkshire terrier and toy poodle cross, from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in August 2007.

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Mr Holmes said: 'When I first came here she would not go out without me and she could not converse with people because she could not hear what they were saying, but when she had the dog people approached her more and she could lip read. She was a very good talker.

'I would not go with her into the town because I can't stand for long and so many people stopped to talk to her. I was always a spare part.'

Odell alerted Mrs Holmes to the doorbell, smoke alarm and cooker timer, and even learned signals that her blood sugar level was too low and pestered her at night until she had something to bring her blood glucose levels back to normal.

Mrs Holmes and Odell became familiar figures around Dereham as they collected donations outside high street shops and addressed local organisations, and since her death the charity has allowed Mr Holmes to keep Odell as a pet.

Mr Holmes said his wife spent her final five years dedicated to raising money for hearing dogs, so other people could benefit as she did from Odell.

He added that she had not thought she would even raise �1,000.