By Moira Hannon
When unemployed builder Stephen Kelly lost his hearing aids, he was devastated at the impact this would have on him and his family.
“I’ve always had problems with my hearing and found it impossible to follow conversations in noisy places,” reveals the dad-of-two from Wicklow town.
“It’s mentally exhausting lipreading or trying to guess what someone is saying — nobody with normal hearing can really understand what that struggle is like.
“Losing the hearing aids was a huge blow because I’m out of work at the moment due to having arthritis in my hands and ankles.
“So I simply could not afford to buy new ones, even though I desperately needed them.”
But Stephen — who turns 50 in December — got an early birthday present when he learnt he was set to receive a FREE pair of high-tech hearing aids.
He explains: “The Hidden Hearing clinic in Bray invited me in for a visit.
“This is where I had bought my original hearing aids a few years ago and they had heard I lost them and could not afford replacements.
“They told me I had been nominated for their GiveBack scheme and was going to receive free hearing aids. I could not believe it!”
Bray-based audiologist Fionnan Murray and his assistant Sharon O’Connor broke the good news to Stephen.
“The GiveBack scheme runs in all 80 Hidden Hearing clinics across the country with staff members nominating deserving recipients,” explains Fionnan.
“We’ve given away over €100,000 worth of hearing aids through the programme.”
Now Stephen is looking forward to celebrating his milestone birthday in style.
“I turn 50 in December so getting my new high tech hearing aids was the best early birthday present ever,” he declares.
Stephen, dad to Jack (20) and Maya (13), says he can now hear “absolutely everything clearly”.
“I would urge people with hearing loss to get their ears tested, being able to hear properly is priceless when it comes to your quality of life.”