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Hear All Aboutthe Local Hear-O Breaking Through Sound Barrier (1)

Tuesday, 01 September 2009

Verity Joyce from Middlesbrough is one step closer to winning the national Sound Barrier Star Awards competition, after her story of triumph over adversity was chosen as the most inspirational in the region.

The competition, run by Specsavers hearing centres in association with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, recognises those hard of hearing who overcome their disability to go on and achieve great things. Ten regional semi-finalists have been chosen from all entries received across the country, five of which will be selected to attend the grand final in London on Thursday 17 September to compete for the title of Sound Barrier Star of the Year.

Verity says: 'I am thrilled to be chosen as one of the ten regional semi-finalists. I hope that my being in this competition will raise awareness of the deaf and deaf-blind community. Sadly I think deaf people are treated differently and that is why I decided to work to change attitudes and help people to live with their impairments.

'I am pleased that my story was seen as inspirational. I hope that it shows others that you can achieve your dreams and that hearing loss shouldn't hold you back from doing anything you want.'

Verity has two websites and is also a qualified mental health first-aider working with mental health services to improve care for deaf people in her community. 

Actress Stephanie Beacham, who has overcome hearing loss herself to achieve great things, is fronting the awards and will be a judge at the grand final event, says: 'The Sound Barrier Star awards are going to be a great platform to acknowledge these ordinary people doing extraordinary things, despite being deaf or hard of hearing. I'm sincerely happy to be involved and look forward to meeting the finalists and learning about their journey.'

Specsavers donated £5 to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People for every entry. 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 Hearing dog recipient herself says: 'We hear some really inspiring stories from the recipients of our hearing dogs and other members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Sound Barrier Stars is a great opportunity to find these unsung heroes.'




About the awards

Ten regional semi-finalists from across the UK will be reduced to five regional finalists, who will be invited to attend the grand final event at the RAF Club in London on Thursday 17 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.



- Ends -


Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of Specsavers hearing centres



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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