A whole new world is slowly revealing itself to Richmondshire councillor Linda Curran.
For after becoming profoundly deaf she has had groundbreaking surgery – and can hear the birds singing for the first time in almost 30 years.
The 61 year old had a cochlear implant in November and within weeks of being ‘switched on’ is picking up sounds she hasn’t heard before.
“It’s amazing – I went to the pictures at Richmond Station the other night to see the Railway Man, it was my first hearing experience at a cinema for many years. What a brilliant film to start with!” she said.
“But there are some disadvantages - the dog chewing her bone drives me mad and my husband turning the pages of the newspaper is so noisy!”
Linda started to lose her hearing following a virus when she was in her 30s and over the years every hearing test showed a further loss of sound. The cochlear implant became her last hope of ever hearing again and when she passed the final assessment to be cleared to have the operation she felt a mixture of excitement and fear.
“It was very scary and painful but the end result is absolutely amazing,” she added.
“I was getting to the point of not being able to keep up with the life I wanted to live. As a councillor I want to be able to talk to the residents of Richmond and help them – and I was struggling more and more to keep up at meetings. But now I am going to be like everyone else – life will be so much easier.”
And she said she has the North East Cochlear Implant Programme to thank for her newfound hearing skills.
“I thought I was clued up about hearing impairments and disabilities but I didn’t know much about this wonderful team and how it can be accessed. I cannot praise them highly enough – and I want other people to benefit like me.
“I didn’t realise how much I was missing out on until this month – and it gets better every day. My ambition going into 2014 is to teach my brain to hear music again so that I can listen to the bands at Richmond Live again. I have been a volunteer for the event for the past few years but haven’t been able to hear the music!”
Contact the Cochlear Implant team on 01642 854068 or NECIP@stees.nhs.uk