Andy, 74, from Northumberland, was forced to take early retirement as a teacher due to genetic hearing loss. But he doesn’t let his hearing loss get in the way of anything he loves to do – even singing in a band!
“I’m probably not your average 70-something with hearing loss. But I don’t see why I should let it hold me back. Of course, there are things I don’t enjoy anymore such as going to the theatre, but I’ve developed a whole host of new interests.
I inherited my hearing loss from my mum, who went completely deaf at 40. She refused to wear heading aids, and in her later years, was completely detached from the real world. Even though I knew there was a chance I’d inherit her hearing loss around the same time, it was still a shock when it happened. Working as a primary school teacher, I was told in no uncertain terms that it would affect my promotional chances, which made me really down.
“Despite my hearing loss, I sing regularly at open mic events at local pubs with a hearing friend.”
I struggled on for several years, eventually getting hearing aids, but by my mid-50s, when I could no longer cope with a noisy classroom setting, I took early retirement. My confidence took a real dip, and it wasn’t until I became involved with Action on Hearing Loss, by campaigning for lipreading classes in the North East, that I really came to terms with my deafness.
I started embracing the things I COULD do, as opposed to the things I couldn’t. I discovered that I could still teach and found part-time work as a university lecturer, where the mature students happily accommodated my hearing loss. I started to give talks on local history and, as a former runner, began to walk every day on the beach or in the country.
I’ve always loved music and strangely enough, despite my hearing loss, my brain still ‘remembers’ how to hit a note, and so I sing regularly at open mic events at local pubs with a hearing friend. My hearing has further deteriorated over the last few years, so I’m determined to do as much as I possibly can before it goes altogether.
It would be so easy to become isolated and hide myself away, like my mum did, but it’s far better to get out, meet like-minded people, laugh, share experiences – and even sing!”