Former EastEnders star of Radlett goes deaf for a day
- Credit: (c) Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd
RADLETT resident and former EastEnders actress Pam St Clement has gone deaf for a day to help a nationwide campaign.
Pam, better known as Pat Butcher on the BBC soap, said she wanted to learn how to cope with the difficulties of day-to-day living when you have one of your senses denied you.
She recently went deaf for a day on behalf of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a charity which trains dogs to alert deaf people to household sounds and danger signals such as the doorbell, telephone and smoke alarms.
Pam wore a specially simulated hearing device to understand first-hand the feelings of loneliness, isolation and the inability to interact socially, which deafness can bring.
She also spent time with Steven Taylor, who has a hearing dog, to learn about the difference a trained canine can make in a deaf person’s life, including alerting them to sounds and providing companionship.
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Steven, who lost his hearing suddenly after an accident, explained: “Having a hearing dog has transformed my life. I felt cut off from the world and lost my confidence. Echo, my hearing dog, has given me my life back and the confidence to go out in public again.”
Pam said that she found the experience hard, even though she was “deaf” just for a day, temporarily losing 50 per cent of her hearing.
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She said that she felt isolated and as though she was in a “bubble”.
Approaching or speaking to people was difficult.
In a café, Pam found it “very difficult” because while she could lip-read one person, if there were more people she struggled to communicate.
Steven told her that he initially used to sit indoors and feel sorry for himself, but that had changed with the appearance of Echo.
Pam asked Steven whether being deaf could cause depression.
He replied: “No question. But Echo’s brought me back to some sort of reality so to speak.
“I feel so lucky to have a hearing dog.”
Pam said that being deaf for the day made her realise how many challenges deaf people faced.
The charity hopes to raise £40,000 to allow it to match 10 more deaf applicants with a hearing dog such as Echo.
For more information, donate to the cause or see Pam being deaf for a day go to www.hearingdogs.org.uk