Silence of the Lamb – EastEnders actor on his battle with hearing loss

An act of kindess publicising the plight of some of the world’s poorest children has led to popular TV actor Larry Lamb loosing his ability to hear in one ear.

The EastEnders and Gavin and Stacy star was in Senegal for a week with a charity but stopped taking his malaria pills on his return because he felt fine, despite being medically advised he should take them for a further eight days.  Three days after his return he developed an unexplained fever thought to be malaria.















Larry Lamb


Larry was seriously ill for several weeks and at one point thought he was going to die.  He had to be hospitalised and put on a drip. Halfway through his illness, he started to notice whining noises in his right ear and was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist.

The specialist diagnosed an infection of the cochlear nerve in the inner ear, which affected his hearing so badly that he is now completely deaf in his right ear.

“Losing my hearing hs been a nightmare and a real shock to the system, a classic case of not appreciating what you have until it’s gone.  I have gone from having good hearing in both ears to only having no hearing in one ear practically overnight, it has been very frustrating.  To add to that I was getting a horribly staiffback and neck from constantly leaning to try to hear people.  As an actor, hearing is so important, so rehearsing and filming was beginning toget very difficult indeed.”

Larry, father of DJ George Lamb, says he now appreciates how isolating it is for people with hearing loss.

“If I am sitting with two or three friends it is almost impossible for me to follow the conversation, ” he says.

Afte a few weeks Larry sought the help of hearing aid audiocologist Mark Edgar, at Specsavers in Edgware Road, London.  Mark confirmed that the malaria Larry had contracted had damaged a large number of hair cells in his inner ear – these are the ones that send electrical signals to the cochlear nerve.  The result is similar to age-related hearing loss but much more sudden and profound and means Larry can’t hear higher frequencies, especially women and children’s voices, and most consonants.

Everyone’s hearing will deteriorate at some stage – with age the hair cells in the inner ear lose their efficiency, affecting what we hear.  Larry had started to lose his hearing before his trip to Senegal but unfortunately contracting malaria led to an acceleration of this natural process.

This type of sudden loss is quite unsual and the infection that Larry contrcted damaged his hearing so much that he has been left with permenant damage and complete loss of hearing in his right ear.  Unfortunately, the ears work together and unless both are working perfectly it can be difficult to hear over background noise as one ear works to drown out the background while the other works to pick up the sound you want to hear.

Larry’s sense of localisation – where a sound is coming from – is also impaired, making crossing the road potentially dangerous, explains Mark Edgar of Specsavers.

Colin has since fitted Larry with a state-of-the-art CROS System hearing aid.  This is very discreet, the size of a jelly bean, and sends the sounds he should be hearing in his right ear via “Bluetooth” technology to a device worn in his left ear.

“This haring aid has made a huge difference to my life and its an enormous relief to be able to hear again.  I can’t belive how discreet it is, so much so that people around me don’t realise I’m wearing a hearing aid and I even forget its there.

“I am so grateful to Specsavers for giving me back my hearing and I would certainly advise everyone to have regular hearing tests, after all, they are free so what’s stopping you?”

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.