Actress Stephanie Beacham campaigns for hearing loss “stars”


London: Actress Stephanie Beacham has launched a new award to highlight the achievements of those who are deaf and partially deaf.

And at the first ceremony of the Sound Barrier Awards, sponsored by UK company Specsavers and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People people from across the UK were congratulated for their achievements.

Stephanie, who is partially deaf in one ear, and has gone on to have a successful acting career including roles in blockbusters such as Dynasty, said that deafness was not a disability but a frustration which it is possible to overcome.

Sixty-six Adam Wilson rom East Grinstead, Surrey is named the Sound Barrier Star of the Year 2009. He is pictured with his hearing dog Baxter and Stephanie.

The national competition run by Specsavers hearing centres in association with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, recognises achievement in the deaf or hard of hearing. Mr Wilson, 66 lost his hearing due to osteosclerosis at the age of 32. Losing his hearing affected him deeply and he became reclusive and felt isolated.

Says Mr Wilson: ‘I went through a really low point. I could have given in but I picked myself up and decided to face my hearing loss head on.’

Adam now gives regular talks about hearing loss in support of charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. It was after giving a talk to the Crawley Air Cadets that the young people he spoke to decided to nominate him for a Sound Barrier Star Award.

Actress Stephanie Beacham presented Mr Wilson with his award at the ceremony in London on Thursday 17 September. She says: ‘Adam is a thoroughly deserving winner. His story is a perfect example of why we set up the awards up in the first place and it was a real delight to meet him.’

Mr Wilson says: ‘I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to do more in raising deaf awareness – this is really what this is all about. Teenagers get such a bad press and it is a lovely feeling to have got through to them.’

The award Mr Wilson received also included a prize of a luxury two-week all-inclusive cruise from Phoenix Holidays, the UK’s leading river cruise specialist, and £1,500 in vouchers from Specsavers.

Air Cadets CO Helen Dudley says: ‘The children were so moved by Adam’s story. He is a remarkably brave individual and an excellent role model.’

Mr Wilson has also written a book in aid of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in which his hearing dog Baxter tells stories. He has sold hundreds of copies and aims to make up to £5,000 for the charity.

Mr Wilson continues: ‘Specsavers has been fantastic in raising awareness of the challenges people face with hearing loss. I remember one incident before I got Baxter. When a fire alarm went off at a hotel I was in, I couldn’t hear it and only woke up by the flashing lights of the fire engine.’

Mr Wilson attended the grand final with four other national finalists (pictured) from across the UK. They were interviewed by judges Stephanie Beacham, Julie Perkins from Specsavers, Judy Cogan and Jenny Smith from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

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.