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updated 8/10/01
Esther Rantzen pays tribute to late husband

Esther Rantzen paid tribute to her late husband when she presented the Desmond Wilcox Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

It is not widely known that Desmond, who died in September last year, was hearing impaired for several years.

The new award was presented for the first time to Elizabeth Pitt from Brill in Buckinghamshire. Elizabeth has volunteered with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People for many years and has made an outstanding contribution to the charity's work. This presentation marks the beginning of an annual award that the charity will present.

Both Esther and Desmond have been strong supporters of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People since Desmond became involved with the charity during the BBC Life Line Appeal in 1991.

Esther said " Hearing Dogs for Deaf People asked if they could honour Desmond in some way to thank him for all his work. I think it is very fitting to have this accolade named after desmond and am delighted to be able to make the first ever presentation."

Because of his own hearing problems, Desmond saw and understood first-hand the benefits that a hearing dog can make to an otherwise invisible disability. By launching the 1991 appeal on television, he enabled the charity to establish its northern training centre, to help meet the growing demand for hearing dogs.

On accepting the award Elizabeth pitt said "I am overwhelmed at receiving this award, there are so many wonderful volunteers giving their time and efforts to raise money for Hearing Dogs I am so touched at being chosen for something I enjoy doing."