KIND hearted volunteer Merleen Watson and her hearing dog Grace have been named as Volunteer of the Year.

The Broadway resident and her dog were named as the winners at the annual Hearing Dogs Awards ceremony in London, attended by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal.

The 67-year-old, who lost her hearing 35 years ago is profoundly deaf, and has learnt to rely on lip reading to communicate with others.

But three years ago Mrs Watson made the decision to volunteer for Hearing Dogs, and it has given her a new lease of life.

And last year she received her hearing dog Grace.

Now she speaks to groups of people about the work of the charity in the local community and also helps to organise fundraising events, raising more than £3,000 in the last year alone.

She said: "Deafness makes you feel less valuable as a person, but volunteering for Hearing Dogs gets me out into the local community.

"I can use the skills that I’ve developed over a long period of work for a good cause, and meet new people at the same time."