Paula was nominated by her client Heather Cooper, who now lives in Turkey, having retired there following the death of her husband several years ago. The former client of Aston Hearing Services was pleased to hear from staff at the clinic after liking one of their social media posts on Facebook and was delighted that they still remembered her.
“From that point onwards I kept in regular contact with them. It was reassuring as, when they learned of my change in situation, they kindly offered to help in any way possible to keep me hearing – even from afar.”
Following a serious fall during which Heather injured her back she contacted the clinic for advice. With a broken bone in her back and in a great deal of pain, Heather had contacted a neighbour, Dora, for help and the two had become friends. There was however an obstacle standing in the way of their communication: her neighbour, Dora, was profoundly deaf. This had become a source of great frustration to them both.
Eager to help a client of Aston Hearing for 17 years, Paula Cook arranged to take her summer holiday in Turkey at a resort near Heather’s new home. Having arranged for her audiology equipment to be taken by plane, she wasted no time in arranging to visit the pair and assess Dora’s hearing, fitting her with hearing aids from the clinic’s stock, to save on cost.
Describing the day Heather said: “The day we arranged to meet for the fitting was a day I will never forget. Paula was so kind and appreciated that Dora would find the introduction of sound at this stage of her life, having very poor hearing for the past 25 years, quite difficult. We took it slowly but all our fears diminished as soon as she fitted the hearing aids to Dora – her face broke into the biggest smile I have ever seen. Then came the tears and emotions from all of us. We went outside of the apartment and wandered down to the beach. Dora looked astonished – ‘I can hear the sea’ – ‘I feel that I’ve been born again’ she said.”
The annual competition is organised by RAYOVAC®, a world-leading hearing aid battery manufacturer*, 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 twelfth year, the competition honours the top hearing professional in each participating country, nominated by their patients, who have received excellent levels of support, service and care from their audiologist.
A panel of judges from organisations connected with the hearing industry from across Europe selected Heather’s entry on behalf of Paula as this year’s winning nomination from the United Kingdom.
“I was beyond delighted for Dora and so excited to for the future and our friendship. At this point Paula had another surprise and presented me with a new pair of hearing aids too – the same as Dora’s, so we were both able to support each other with our new aids.”
Heather went on to explain that although Paula’s and Aston Hearings generosity and kindness was one of the reasons behind her nomination for Audiologist of the Year, it was Paula’s background and reasons for entering the profession that really hit home.
“Her previous career, prior to becoming an Audiologist had been working for the fire brigade but when her first child was born she focused her attention on being a mum. She was a beautiful little girl but was difficult to manage and had very challenging behaviour. She kept going back to her GP but it wasn’t until her child was three that she was diagnosed with severe hearing loss. By this time Paula had a second child. His hearing was also tested and it transpired they both had the same genetic hearing loss.
“From that moment on Paula fought for her children. She became involved in every way possible to ensure that they received the best care and technology available. She was such a regular in the audiology department that they offered her a job and that was that – her career in audiology began. Audiology is not a career for Paula, it is a life-long vocation.”
The leading audiologists from six countries will now vie for the coveted title of European Audiologist of the Year 2019. The winner will be announced at an Evening of Excellence and networking event on the 16 October 2019 which will be held on the RAYOVAC® stand at the EUHA Congress and Exhibition, the world’s largest congress of hearing aid acousticians in Nuremberg, Germany.
Speaking on behalf of the panel, Secretary General for EHIMA, Stefan Zimmer said: “Picking a winner from so many detailed and heart-warming nominations is never easy. What we are looking for is those hearing care professionals who are going above and beyond merely expected levels of care in their practice. Paula was a clear winner in this regard.”
Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at RAYOVAC®, said: “Together with our sponsors, we’re delighted to be announcing Paula Cook as the United Kingdom’s Audiologist of the Year.
“We receive a high number of outstanding entries each year, showcasing the impressive standards of work that is taking place and this year has been no exception to that.”
“This is completely surreal for me; I was shocked to be nominated and then to be chosen for the award, for what I consider to be a complete privilege, to have happened upon a career that has become my vocation in life. When I received the devastating news of Ellen and Michael’s diagnosis, I could never have imagined the path it would have taken us all on, but when I received the news I was with Ellen and Michael it felt like the award was for the 3 of us. A culmination and recognition of our amazing journey”.
Visitors can attend the annual Evening of Excellence and networking event on Stand 401, Hall 4A, Wednesday from 5pm, where the 12th European Audiologist of the Year will be crowned.