Mum's BSL mission after losing hearing 'without warning'

Laura Fowkes from Ipswich abruptly lost her hearing at the end of last year.

Laura Fowkes from Ipswich abruptly lost her hearing at the end of last year. She now dreams of supporting others in a similar position to learn BSL. - Credit: Laura Fowkes

A former NHS worker from Ipswich whose world turned “upside down,” when she lost her hearing is determined to help others in the deaf community. 

Laura Fowkes, 38, lives with Ménière's disease, a condition of the inner ear that can cause vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss.  

“Even though I have had bouts of lesser hearing after an attack, this happened suddenly without warning, and was terrifying,” explained Laura, who lives with her partner, Dan, and three-year-old son, Reuben, in the Rose Hill area. 

Before becoming a mum to Reuben, aged three, Laura worked for the NHS 111 service for five years.

Before becoming a mum to Reuben, aged three, Laura worked for the NHS 111 service for five years. - Credit: Laura Fowkes

She lost her hearing in November last year.  

“I was watching the TV, and suddenly, it went quiet,” she said. 

Initially, Laura struggled to come to terms with her new deafness. 

“The first few months, I locked myself away and thought my life was over. I was very depressed and felt so helpless not being able to communicate with anyone,” she said. 

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“I went from a very outgoing person to a very anxious one- it felt like a very lonely place to be. 

“Some days, I’m sad because I feel like I lost so much when I lost my hearing, but I try to stay as positive as I can, and I want to take steps to get some of my life back and help others by learning BSL.” 

Laura now wears hearing aids after losing her hearing in November.

Laura now wears hearing aids after losing her hearing in November. - Credit: Laura Fowkes

Laura says that the support she has received from her partner Dan, family and friends has been incredible.

Laura says that the support she has received from her partner Dan, family and friends has been incredible. - Credit: Laura Fowkes

Laura is determined to raise awareness of issues deaf people face

Laura is determined to raise awareness of issues deaf people face. When out and about, she wears a badge to alert people to her deafness, and says masks are 'her worst enemy.' - Credit: Laura Fowkes

“When my little boy goes to school next September, I want to be qualified level 2/3 [in BSL] so I can help in the deaf community in some way - I don’t want losing my hearing to be for nothing.” 

She hopes to one day provide the support she herself needed when she first lost her hearing. She previously worked for the NHS 111 service before becoming a mum. 

To help her achieve this goal, Laura has started a GoFundMe, after being told that she was not entitled to funding towards BSL courses. 

“I felt very let down by the government that they can’t help people like me with our disability and to live a better life for something that is essential,” she said. 

“People have been so nice - with donations, but also kind words and encouragement. It’s all been very overwhelming and I’m so grateful for the help from the bottom of my heart. 

“BSL should be taught in schools and courses should be government funded, as until you need it, you have no idea what a lifeline and a necessity it is.” 

Laura can be found on Instagram @the_deaf_mama

To find out about the Go Fund me page click here