'My life changed forever when I lost my hearing'

Bury Times: Helen Hunt Helen Hunt

A DETERMINED woman whose life changed forever when she lost her hearing is helping to relaunch a historic Bury charity.

In 2010, 25-year-old Helen Hunt was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type two (NF2), which causes tumours to grow along nerves responsible for hearing and balance.

Bury-born Helen, who recently moved to Breightmet, Bolton, had planned to be a geography teacher after graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University in July 2011.

After initially suffering from tinnitus, she was already deaf in her left ear when she underwent a gruelling 12-hour operation to remove tumours in September 2011.

More surgery to remove further right side tumours in May 2012 left Helen completely deaf, although an auditory brain implant now helps her sense vibrations.

After first volunteering at the Bury Society for Deaf and Hearing Impaired People last March, within two months she was hired as fundraising and marketing manager.

Helen is spearheading the charity’s relaunch later this month, which will see the adult’s and children’s branches come together with a new name and logo.

Just as importantly, she has found her independence again after taking a huge knock to her confidence after her illness.

She said: “I have gone from being pushed around in a wheelchair, not going out or speaking to anyone, to being independent again.

“At first it was hard — little things I had taken for granted, like being able to talk on the phone, I now had to rely on other people to do for me.

“I was focussed on what I couldn’t do, but coming to the deaf society has really helped me cope.

“I realise things like getting a bus or going into a shop are not out of reach. I just need to help with deaf awareness rather than just expecting people to know how to act.”

Formed in 1932, Bury’s deaf society moved to its current premises in Tenterden Street in 1948 and provides a host of social, life skills and educational opportunities.

Helen’s employment with the society was kick-started by Pure Innovations, a disabled employment organisation that secured funding to pay her wages for six months.

She said the charity’s relaunch is about providing a service for the one in six people who lose their hearing in later life as much as people who are born deaf.

Helen added: “The relaunch is a celebration everything the society has to offer and a reminder to anyone who is deaf or has a hearing impairment that they are not alone.

"I feel like I have grown, but the society has grown too. I have seen huge changes since I have been here and I’m sure there are a lot more to come.”

Robert Quayle, centre manager, said: “Helen has moved the charity to the next level and we could not have managed the relaunch without her.

“She is also reaching hearing-impaired people far and wide who are looking for help and has been an inspiration to others.”

The relaunch of Bury Society for Deaf and Hearing Impaired People will be held next Wednesday during Deaf Awareness Week, at the charity’s headquarters in Tenterden Street and the public are invited to drop in between 2.30pm and 8pm.

For more information about the relaunch event: e-mail burydeafclub@live.co.uk or call 0161 7634882

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