top of page
Music to their ears
by Nicky Findley - originally printed in
the Bournemouth Evening Echo 

When Katie Bray penned a poem about her young son Owen, it touched the hearts of hundreds of families across the country. For each one could relate in some way to the sentiment that had inspired the proud mum’s prose, as they are all members of the Dorset Deaf Children’s Society. The Charity which relies on donations and fundraisers, provides free support for all families with a hearing impaired child in Dorset. Katie, a dental nurse who lives with her husband Martin and two son’s Alfie, eight, and Owen, five, near Christchurch, says she was distraught when she was told that her five week old baby was profoundly deaf in both ears.

“My husband and I were over the moon when Owen was born, a baby brother for Alfie. Martin had his suspicions about Owen’s hearing straight away but I brushed it off. Owen failed his newborn hearing screen when he was just days old. The midwife told us this was very common and can be down to residual fluid.” Owen failed the test twice more before he was referred to an audiologist who made the heartbreaking diagnosis. “He heard nothing,” says Katie. “This was a huge shock for us as neither of us had any experience whatsoever with deafness.”

Owen had moulds taken to be fitted with hearing aids and they were given a leaflet for the Dorset Deaf Children’s Society. Katie says she contacted the charity as soon as she got home and spoke to Shirley Sorbie, the membership secretary. “Shirley answered all of my questions and made me feel we weren’t alone. Owen was fitted with hearing aids at six weeks old and the following day we attended our first support group on Shirley’s recommendation. “It was wonderful.” Adds Katie. “There were other local families just like us. Owen’s deafness was later confirmed to be genetic. He wore hearing aids consistently for a year but they provided no proven benefit. He still heard nothing.” Eventually, shortly after his first birthday, Owen received bilateral Cochlear Implants. “This involved a long assessment process and a six-hour operation. Throughout this time we attended family events organised by DDCS which were great, the whole family would benefit from them. We could talk to other parents, Alfie could talk with other children, and we could see other families at different stages of their journey.”

Owen’s operation was a success and after a year of silence he slowly started to respond to sounds. Katie is now a trustee for the charity and Owen is attending a mainstream school. She sums ups: “He is loving, caring, chatty and hilariously funny. He is incredibly bright and we have high hopes for his future. We never felt alone, DDCS soon became our extended family.”

Kevin Forbes, the new chairman of the charity said: “I first encountered the charity when my daughter suddenly went deaf as a child and the support we got from DDCS was incredible at such an emotional time for us all. I am honoured to have been asked to get involved with such a fantastic charity that helps local children and families and hope that I am able to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Katie's poem 'Inspired by Owen' is on our News & Information page - click HERE to view it

bottom of page