Last year, during Access' 2019 staff day at Warwick university the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) was announced as our charity of the year and myself and my husband Adam Freeman had the pleasure of standing up in front of our colleagues and friends to share our journey in our home made video.
Standing on stage and reliving the events was especially difficult but the overwhelming support we received demonstrated what an amazing bunch of people we work with!
In June 2019 Henry had only been implemented with his cochlear implants for 2 months, so we were right at the start of him hearing and understanding sound and we knew we had a hard road ahead. He was fantastic wearing his implants and soon started asking for his ears which was incredible progress so early on. The best moment came when he said Mama for the first
time, simple things that most people take for granted but was the best day ever! Cochlear implants allow Henry to hear as electrodes replace the damaged hair cells in his ears allowing the auditory nerve to then pick up signals and transmit them to his brain. For a child that had never heard sound his brain had some catching up to do.
Due to this we continued with our side language lessons and teaching Henry both sign and spoken language. With our wedding approaching in September the NDCS paid for us to have a course of sign language lessons so we could not only speak our wedding vows but also sign them we felt it was a fitting tribute to Henry a day when we weren’t just becoming man and wife but a family coming together. These family sign lessons are expensive so the money The Access group raises goes towards families like us to be able to communicate with our little ones.
Watching all the events taking place throughout all the offices was very heart warming, from bake sales, to running, to quiz nights a huge thank you to each and every one of our colleagues who helped raise money.
Everyone really took Henry to their hearts and fully supported us.
Christmas this year was magical, and the first one Henry could hear the Christmas music and we bought him all the noisy toys we could find to make up for lost time (which we regretted come January). He was starting to talk and his understand was progressing much faster than experts were expecting. We attend Speech and Language Therapy every 2 weeks in Manchester for reprogramming of his implants and also therapy to help him catch up on the 17 months of silence he experienced from birth.
When COVID hit in March this year, we became full time workers as well as childcare and had to cover all his Speech and Language needs, it was extremely daunting and very challenging at times. All the events everyone had planned were cancelled including the London Marathon, the 3 peaks and the London Triathlon which Adam had signed up to. Lockdown is hard enough, and we kept thinking of those poor families who we were receiving the devastating news we did and not having anyone there to support them physically. Every day 5 families receive that life changing news and 90% of those families are exactly like us and have no experience with deafness. That is why the NDCS is so important, they see you at your lowest point and even now I know they are there at the end of the phone when I’m having a bad day.
The future is so bright for Henry and he has already caught up in terms of his listening and speech which is incredible, but
Henry will always be deaf without his implants. We continue to be supported through the NDCS whether that’s help with funding or completing documentation ready for schools or events they run so we can meet families with deaf children
(virtually at the minute).
We were worried when COVID cancelled all our events and not being able to hit the target we had set at the start of the year and we are so grateful to Access for supporting this charity for a second financial year.
The virtual staff week in July 2020 to kick start Access' new Financial year really brought everyone together and peoples generously was very humbling.
We decided we wanted to do something special to kick start the fundraising again and with the help of Access we came up with the idea of Super Henry and his 5 challenges. Henry loved filming the events and I his understanding to complete the tasks really demonstrated how far he has come.
We are really excited for FY21 and all the things we can do to really make a difference to the lives of deaf children all over the United Kingdom. Sometimes work and personal life collide and when it happens, it’s a special thing.