A dedicated Hertfordshire audiologist has been awarded the most coveted accolade in her field in recognition of the life-changing impact her work has had on patients in her care.
Bridgitte Harley, director at The Hearing Clinic, Radlett, has been announced as the 2018 UK Audiologist of the Year.
She was nominated by a patient who praised Bridgitte for helping her to hear from her left ear for the first time since she developed Single Sided Deafness (SSD) at the age of four.
In her heart-warming nomination, Tina, 61, from Essex, said: “From the age of four, I have effectively had no hearing in my left ear after measles damaged a nerve.
“As I grew up, I learned how to lip read, ensured people were on the right-hand side of me at school, social and business events, and, on occasions, explained to people in a busy social or work atmosphere that I was unable to hear from the left.
“But Bridgitte’s in-depth auditory testing, patience and experiments with different hearing aids led to a solution using two digital hearing aids that has enhanced my hearing and given me a better quality of life.”
The competition is organised by Rayovac, a world-leading hearing aid battery manufacturer* and division of Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc., in partnership with Audio Infos, a leading international hearing publication for the audiology industry, the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) and the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH).
Now in its eleventh year, the competition honours the UK’s top hearing professionals, as voted for by their hard of hearing and deaf patients, who have received excellent levels of support, service and care from their audiologist.
Celebrating a decade of industry excellence, a panel of independent hearing care professionals came together over the summer to judge the high volume of UK entries, to determine who deserved to be crowned as the winner.
The winners of each country will then go head-to-head before one overall European winner is revealed at the annual Evening of Excellence taking place at the EUHA event in October.
Tina added: “For the first time in decades, I could hear sound from the left, I understood what directional hearing was, and most importantly to me, I didn’t have to keep asking people to repeat what they said or ask my family ‘what did they say?’ in TV dramas!
“I could tell which direction sound came from or when someone called my name instead of turning in the wrong direction and being puzzled.
“Bridgitte also took the time to assess my hearing out in the local area and educate me in what to be aware of in busy atmospheres, such as in a café, helping me understand acoustics and how sound bounces off reflective surfaces such as glass and where to therefore sit.
“She also sent me information and blogs to read on understanding Single Sided Deafness and also a link to a video for my family to watch and listen to with earphones, which they did. For the first time my family understood what it is like to have SSD and, while they have always been empathetic, they hadn’t truly appreciated what it was like. Bridgitte doesn’t just go the extra mile, she goes an extra hundred miles!
“I am so grateful to Bridgitte, her expertise and professionalism for making such a difference to my life. The care, attention to detail and desire to find the best solution for me, is second to none. I am forever grateful to Bridgitte, she truly deserves to be recognised for her extraordinary work.”
Competition Judge Stefan Zimmer, Secretary General for EHIMA, said: “We are proud to be part of a competition that brings so many professionals from the industry together to recognise their life-changing accomplishments.
“It was hard to pick a winner from so many moving nominations, but the judges all agreed that Bridgitte is a deserving recipient of this award, demonstrating a level of care that goes well beyond the consulting room.”
Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at Rayovac, said: “With the support of our sponsors, we are honoured to once again be able to celebrate the achievements of hardworking and dedicated hearing care professionals, like Bridgitte, who go the extra mile for their patients.
“We’ve received an incredible number of entries to the competition, now in its 11th year, showcasing the high standard of work that is taking place.
“The award is not only an accolade in its own right but plays a key role in supporting the practices of winning audiologists in the UK and across Europe.”
Judging is now underway to decide which of the winners from each of the participating countries will go on to win the coveted title of European Audiologist of the Year. The winner will receive a cash prize along with a certificate, which will be presented at the annual Evening of Excellence during the EUHA event in Hannover, Germany this October.