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Hear All Aboutthe Achievers Breaking Sound Barrier

Thursday, 11 June 2009

GLAMOUROUS star of stage and silver screen Stephanie Beacham is today launching the search for the first ever Specsavers Sound Barrier Star.

The actress, who suffers from hearing loss, is searching for a deaf or hard of hearing achiever to recognise as a Sound Barrier Star. These brand new awards will reward an ordinary individual for their achievements or courage despite having hearing loss. Stephanie has teamed up with Specsavers hearing centres and charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People to front the awards and find a star for 2009.

Stephanie says: Hearing loss is a condition often overlooked and there are so many great achievers out there, who should be commended for their contributions to work, life and society. Having only 40% hearing in my right ear since birth has at times been frustrating, but understanding the issues associated with hearing loss has made a real difference and I feel very proud of everything that I've achieved in spite of it.'

'I am thrilled to be  supporting The Sound Barrier Star Awards, this will be a great platform to acknowledge these ordinary people doing extraordinary things, despite being deaf or hard of hearing. I'm very happy to be involved and look forward to meeting the finalists and learning about their journey.'

Stephanie was born with no hearing whatsoever in her right ear, and just 80% in her left ear. But with a career spanning from her glamour-puss days in Dynasty and starring alongside Marlon Brando in film The Nightcomers, to more recent appearances in Bad Girls and Coronation Street, Stephanie has certainly never let the condition hold her back.

Anyone can nominate themselves, a friend or family member to enter the Sound Barrier Star Awards by visiting one of over 400 Specsavers hearing centres nationwide and picking up a nomination form. Entrants will be asked to explain why they deserve to win.

Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins says: 'We are thrilled that Stephanie is fronting our awards, as she is a fantastic example of a Sound Barrier Star herself. Her international career spanning the decades is testament to her drive and ambition and just proves that even with hearing loss, you really can achieve your dreams.'

For every entry to the awards, Specsavers will donate £5 to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, their charity for 2009. Hearing Dogs help transform the lives of their deaf owners by alerting them to sounds that those with good hearing take for granted, allowing them greater independence, confidence and security.

Jenny Smith, a trustee of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and a hearing dog recipient herself says: 'We hear some really inspiring stories from the recipients of our hearing dogs and other members of the deaf/hard of hearing community. Sound Barrier Stars is a great opportunity to find these unsung heroes.'




How to enter the awards

The awards will recognise 10 regional finalists across the UK, five of whom will be selected and invited to attend a grand final at the RAF club in London on the 17th September. Stephanie will be host the awards and present the winner with a luxury two week all-inclusive cruise from Phoenix Holidays, the UK's leading river cruise specialist, and £1,500 in vouchers from Specsavers. She will be assisted in the judging process by Dame Mary Perkins and Jenny Smith from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.


The nine runners-up will also receive goody bags, including a £200 voucher for Phoenix Holidays.


Entry forms are available in over 400 Specsavers hearing centres across the UK. The entry form can also be downloaded from www.specsavers.co.uk or www.hearingdogs.org.uk. The closing date for entries is Friday 31 July 2009.



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Hearing centres notes to editors                                                    Updated April 2009

  • Hearcare was established in 1998 by qualified hearing aid dispenser Peter Ince and healthcare retail specialist Rob Warner
  • Hearcare was acquired by the Specsavers Group in October 2002 and rebranded under the Specsavers banner in 2003.
  • The acquisition of Hearcare fitted with Specsavers' strategy of expanding its successful business model into new countries and health care sectors
  • Specsavers now provides hearing care from more than400 locations in the UK,
  • Specsavers is now the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in the UK and has a market share of 24%
  • Specsavers hearing centres operate as a joint venture partnership, ensuring hearing aid dispensers are genuine stakeholders, involved with every aspect of the business
  • Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world. The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their eldest son John is joint managing director
  • Specsavers has more than 1,340 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain and Australia
  • Specsavers employs more than 26,000 people
  • Annual turnover for the Specsavers Group is forecast to reach a record £1.4 billion in 2009. Annual turnover for Specsavers hearing centres in 2008 was £25 million
  • Specsavers supports numerous optical and hearing charities, including Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Sound Seekers
  • Specsavers was voted Britain's most trusted brand of opticians for the eighth year running by Reader's Digest in 2009