Louis Walsh on the importance of hearing
Tuesday, 01 March 2016
MUSIC manager and former X Factor judge Louis Walsh is raising awareness of the importance of regular hearing checks after revealing he has hearing loss.
The 63-year-old, who has managed some of the UK’s most successful pop groups, has spoken out about his deteriorating hearing for the first time following a recent test at Specsavers Audiologists.
Louis, who has been told that he will most likely need to wear hearing aids one day, has teamed up with Specsavers to launch its Listen Up campaign.
Recent research into hearing loss in the latest Health Survey for England* found that one in six women and almost one in four men aged over 55 reported no hearing difficulties, but were subsequently found to have some hearing loss.
‘That’s why I’m pleased to be launching Specsavers Audiologists’ Listen Up campaign, to help encourage others to have regular hearing checks.’
During The X Factor auditions two years ago, Louis realised he was really struggling to hear the acts; ‘the audience was so loud and the other judges started making jokes about my hearing and old age. I laughed them off.’
Louis says: ‘I’ve worked in the music industry since I was 15 and have had the pleasure of listening to some great – and not-so-great – acts over the years. My hearing is obviously crucial in my career, so I was a little nervous when I first began to notice that it wasn’t what it used to be.
Following a recent hearing test at Specsavers Audiologists, Louis was informed that although he doesn’t currently need a hearing aid, he does have mild age-related hearing loss which should be monitored. ‘I was actually quite shocked to hear that I don’t need a hearing aid yet, but having my hearing tested has made me realise just how important it is to have regular hearing checks. People have no problem getting their sight checked, yet for some reason, admitting to having hearing problems is still relatively taboo.’
Louis adds: ‘Although I don’t need to wear a hearing aid now, I know there will come a time when I do, and I have no problem with that whatsoever. I want to continue to hear everything and they are so small and advanced these days that there really is no reason to not want to wear one!’
‘I know Simon Cowell will really take the mickey out of me for this, but I think after some of the people he’s allowed through on The X Factor he should consider having his hearing tested too! I mean come on, Reggie and Bollie?!’
Nick Taylor, head of professional advancement at Specsavers Audiologists says: ‘Louis’s high-frequency hearing loss is relatively mild and is due to normal wear and tear. Often known as presbycusis, this type of hearing loss happens gradually as people age.
‘Unfortunately, people still find it difficult to admit that they are losing their hearing, despite it being a natural ageing process that happens to everyone. The Specsavers’ Listen Up campaign aims to normalise hearing loss, raise awareness of the common symptoms and encourage people to incorporate hearing checks into their regular healthcare routine. We recommend that anyone over the age of 55 has a hearing check once a year.’
Louis jokes: ‘I suppose it’s obvious that my hearing has deteriorated over the years: my acts like Boyzone and Westlife have had great success, and people like Johnny Logan have helped Ireland become the most successful country in Eurovision’s history. But in more recent times, perhaps if my hearing had been up to scratch I wouldn’t have put some of the acts through!’
For more information or to book a free hearing test visit www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing. The Specsavers Hearing Check App is also free to download on the App and Play store on iOS or Android devices, and advises whether a full check in store is recommended.
*NatCen Social Research & UCL survey of 5,300 people in England, December 2015
Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of Specsavers Hearing Centres www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing
For further information please contact:
Tel: 020 7053 6010
Specsavers notes to editors
- Specsavers is a Partnership of almost 2,000 locally-run businesses throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, all committed to delivering high quality, affordable optical and hearing care in the communities they serve
- Each store is part-owned and managed by its own directors who are supported by key specialists in support offices that provide a range of services including marketing, accounting, IT and wholesaling, among others
- There are currently more than 1,200 partners in the UK and Republic of Ireland alone, of whom over 500 have been with the Partnership for at least ten years
- Specsavers was founded in 1984 by husband and wife team, Doug and Dame Mary Perkins, who pioneered the optical joint venture partnership model and also revolutionised the industry with their innovative concept of affordable, fashionable eyecare for everyone
- Specsavers is a champion of the National Health Service – of its 192m customers in the UK, 60% are from the NHS and the company is the largest provider of free NHS digital hearing aids
- Specsavers is the largest employer of registered optometrists and dispensing opticians in the UK (around 3,500)
- Total revenue for the Specsavers Group was over £2 billion in 2014/2015
- Specsavers stores employ more than 30,000 staff globally
- More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers - 10,800,000 glasses were exported from the warehouse to stores in 2013
- Specsavers has more than a million customers on contact lenses direct debit schemes. Specsavers' own contact lens brand - easyvision - is the most known on the high street
- The hearcare business in the UK has established itself as the number one high street provider of adult audiology services to the NHS
- Specsavers supports several UK charities including Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Sound Seekers, the road safety charity Brake, the anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Vision Aid Overseas, for whom stores have raised enough funds to build a school of optometry in Zambia and open eyecare outreach clinics in much of the country.