Saffron Walden boy and his best friend honoured at Hearing Dogs Awards
- Credit: Archant
The unbreakable bond between one Saffron Walden boy and his dog was recognised publicly last week, when 11-year-old Max Morris and his faithful black Labrador Chloe received a trophy from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne at the national Hearing Dogs Awards.
Before a packed audience at 8 Northumberland Hotel, central London, Max and Chloe received the Life-changing Child Partnership of the Year Award 2014.
The Saffron Walden County High pupil, who lives at De Bohun Court with his parents and sister Teagan, was born with a rare cranio facial disorder, Treacher Collins Syndrome. The condition means the middle part of Max’s face is not properly formed – he has no cheekbones – and was born with closed ear canals. Max was just 10 weeks old when he got his first hearing aid.
Before three-year-old Chloe joined the Norris family, Max was becoming increasingly isolated. People would stare at him, lowering his low self-esteem. Matt Norris, Max’s dad, came across volunteers for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in Saffron Walden, and immediately contacted the charity, who arranged for Chloe to go and live with Max.
“We’ve had Chloe for about 18 months. She’s just been great for him,” said Max’s mum, Andrea, 46.
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“Max worries about going to new places, he worries about meeting new people, but with Chloe it’s all a bit easier. It makes him a bit less conscious about himself. He absolutely loves being with her, he comes home from school, she’s so excited to see him, he’s so excited to see her.”
Since Chloe’s arrival in February 2013, Max has been happier and more sociable, his mum says.
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“With his disability he’s done really well to be in mainstream school,” Andrea said. “Winning this award was so special, above all so Max could meet other people who can’t hear well. Deafness is the invisible disability, people don’t know how it affects you, and for Max it is really important that his disability is recognised.
“It was also fun for Max’s sister, Teagan, to go out to London for the evening and to meet Princess Anne was something else.”
The ceremony was hosted by actor and TV presenter Tim Vincent and attended by a number of the charity’s ambassadors and celebrities, including journalist and television personality, Esther Rantzen.
“Chloe is my best friend, she makes me feel confident,” said Max.
“Sometimes I fall out with my friends, but now I know I have a friend that I will never fall out with.”
To find out more about the charity and Max’s story, visit to hearingdogs.org.uk.