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Ok, to start with Avril, thank you for having us here today and thank you for agreeing to

this interview. Could you tell me a little bit about the nature of your disability or your health
condition or your, your disadvantage as you, you called it?

At the present time, we're not going right? Yes ok, I became totally deaf in, exactly ten
years ago this month. Um, having been born with hearing loss, I believe I had abscess all
throughout my babyhood. They didn't use penicillin, so both ears were perforated and that
is the nature, the beginning of all the problems I've had throughout my life. Um, infection
after infection. Do you want to know the first issue of hearing aids or not? Do you want to
go through that?

Well go through your in-

Right, I was born in London. Came to Cambridge about 500 yards away, left uh, in 1945
when I was sent to the hospital because of all this problems, and I remember nose drops
and ear drops all my childhood and getting mixed up, putting the ear drops in the n-. Um,
and so I was sent to Addenbrooke's and they gave me a Medresco hearing aid. Now, you
can see the type of person I am. It was a leather case with the batteries in, which went
round my legs, a cord to a body-worn hearing aid, a cord to a great big sticky-out, and I'm
sorry, but that went in the dustbin. I was nine. Um, I coped throughout school. Another
significant feature that has occurred to me thinking of this; I took up sport more than
academic subjects. Why? Because you didn't have to hear, did you? It was all action.
Funny how things, you know, you understand them better when you're, working why. Um,
loved my sport. But because both my parents were in business, um, I actually decided,
and I've proved, clubs and associations and things that I've run, that that is my best
subject, organisation. And so I went to the Technical College to study um, Secretarial

Sports, Secretarial Work, Shorthand Typing and achieved as much as I could. Um, at that
time, on to the hearing aid bit, uh, I had- I'd thrown that one away and they'd said my
hearing was conductive loss, you understand that? You get nerve loss and conductive
loss, conductive loss is the best loss to be able to be helped with a hearing aid, and I wore
a band around my head. And I can, all my shorthand exams, pushing this against my head
to get the best sound I could. And uh my, I don't think I was top class but I think I achieved
a pretty good, uh a pretty good level for um, you know, having been hard of hearing for a
long time. Where shall I go next?

Let's go back a little bit. You were, you said you were born in London?


Whereabouts in London?

Walton-on-the-Naze. Right. And we moved nine times during the war, and once again I
have the terrific admiration for my mother, because I had a brother; my father was a
number one Commando, so we moved from job, mother moved from job to job, and in
between back to Grandma in Southfields, Wimbledon, Eastcote, Ruislip, Battlestone,
Weybridge, North Sheen, alright? So there's another thing there, nine schools before I was
nine and lack of continuity.

So, um, you we-

Right. Nine, nine different schools and came back to live here and went to Milton Road
Primary School. For one year, is now Manor Court and I do the hearing aids there, I did
them yesterday!

Oh wow.

I told them yesterday, I'm standing in my Primary School.

Um, did your mother work?

Oh yes, she managed Post Offices, Newspaper Shops. I can remember, cos we were
children, young kids, um having their sweet, the customers used to give their sweet
coupons to us. Yeah, yeah. B U's and sweet coupons, and we used to sleep in a steel
table at the back of the shop. Flats went with these shops. This was a particular shop, was
a corner shop in North Sheen, and it was newspapers, Post Office. And my brother and I,
for safety reasons, used to sleep under there while mother slept in the flat upstairs. And I
still like Wednesdays cos all the comics were delivered! Isn't it funny? Yes, it's always a
nice, it's the middle of the week but it still has that-

What comics did you..?

Oh, The Beano and The Dandy and the yeah. Yeah. But the association there, it lasts a
whole lifetime.

Yeah. Mm. Um, how, was your brother older or younger than you?

Was my mother?

Brother, sorry, was your brother-

Brother, sorry, four years older.

Four years older, um.

Looked after me. Looked after me, took me to the pictures. Right? Um, I think, going to the
pictures and of course I was very young, so he had total respon- father had said to him,
look after your sister while I'm away. And we used to go to the cinema and the, you won't
know anything about this, the organ used to raise through the floor. Now, oh, 50 years
later I realised why I enjoyed that so much, because the depth of sound. That must, that
really made an impact on me and I've loved music ever since, but the deeper, uh, and I, I
can remember coming home, you know, on a high because of that. That's a big memory
and only dawned on me much later why that memory stayed with me so much, and it was
because of that depth of sound, then because- I haven't got my recordings of my hearing
at that, that stage. I've got a file there of stuff that I write, I write to me.

Um, how old were you when it was realised that you had um, a hearing impairment?

Well, when they wanted to give me a hearing aid.

How old were you then?

I was nine. When I, when I came to Cambridge and they sent me straight off to
Addenbrooke's. Ah, this is interesting, they immediately whipped my tonsils out, they don't
do that anymore. Yeah, they don't do that anymore. Conductive loss and I'm still, um, I've
got asthma now and I think this goes right back to all the problems associated with the
drainage. I think, in fact I want to ask because it's uh, annoying now. My voice sound
alright to you? I'm gravelly to me and I don't like it at all, but once again I think that's the
electronics there that don't produce the perfect sound, so I better not speak too
scientifically about that.

Uh, why did your, why did you move to Cambridge? Why did your family come to

Yeah, we came yes, when father was demobbed, the war ended and um, my father's
brother did not fight in the war. Was very proud of his, had every right to be very proud of
his brother. Uh, he had bought the Swiss Laundry in Cambridge, wanted to expand and
there were some greenhouses, and I point there because it's 500 yards away literally.
Bought these greenhouses and turned it into the Scotsdale Laundry. My mother and father
turned it into the business that it is now, and now you've heard of Scotsdale Nurseries?
Well that's all um, associated. Uh, yeah.

That's an immense part of Cambridge history just there.

There. That's right, and ma- I run a Seniors group on this estate and um, I'm having a talk
about the beginning of Scotsdales. March I think, next month. Mm, yes that's interesting
isn't it? Yeah.

So, um, you had your first hearing aid when you were nine?

Sorry, I've lost you a bit.

Sorry, you had your first um, hearing aid when you were nine?

And I chucked it out the window.

Mm. What, what happened then? Where, wh-?

Well, until I took up the secretarial course I had nothing else, so that forces you into being
a good lip reader. Um, and then, it's a bit hazy here and I don't know why, but I ended up
with this conductive head band to a hearing aid to do all my shorthand exams, okay? So I
attended the technical college, and I surprisingly got quite good grades there because it
was my interest. [bark] No, not yet, it's his job to collect the post. Um, very interesting that
everything that I took on that was new; shorthand typing, bookkeeping, maybe because of
this, meant sense, but history, geography when I hadn't got any hearing help, very sad and
I'm now a little bit cross that um, things weren't realised. Geography teacher walked up
and down and up and down and, you never we-, as a child, well you feel guilty, you feel
imperfect, you feel uh, very hard done by in a way, but you don't realise it then. Would you
keep out of the way as much as you can?

Were, were there any um, was there any assistance given to you specifically because of
your hearing loss at school? And was it addressed at all? Was it mentioned or-?

Uh, except that, and that was my, Avril Turvill, that was at the Central, uh, Girls' Central

What date was that?

That was '51.

'51. Could you read that out for us so we have it on tape, please again?

Oh yeah. Um, that was before I went on to the, here's something significant. I didn't, I
wanted to be a vet, um and I went, from the school, I went to sit, yes very significant. I
went to sit an entrance exam to go to the Technical College to take a matriculation course,
Veterinary Studies. I'm embarrassed to tell you this and, unsurprisingly, I didn't hear a
word of the explanation of what we had to do. I didn't dare say anything. Yeah, it upsets
me now, isn't it interesting? Um, and so I had my check at- second choice was secretarial.
That was revealing to me, sorry! I can remember it now. And so it was more or less like an
intelligence test, but she had gone through all the points and I didn't have the gumption to
say, I'm sorry I can't hear or can I sit closer or anything, and that was very very
embarrassing. I think, you know, that uh, it dawned on you, because you can cope as a
child, you pick it all up. You don't make much of it, um, and I was always this bouncy, and
could make a joke to get a- away with it. Um, well that was very interesting for me. Yeah,
anyway, so I was on this secretarial course. As I say, it wasn't too bad. I must have
mentioned it, or they must have cottoned on there. I can remember sitting right at the front.
Um, yeah interesting. Sorry, guide me! Have a, have a drink, haven't had one yet!

Yes please, yes of course. Um, so you went to, you did, you went to College. Where did
you go after that?

After College I got my first job.

Where was that?

Um, Chivers.

Oh the jam factory, or?

Secretarials. Order Department. From one year from one, from the very day I started to the
next year and, yeah, shorthand typist. Yes they worked extremely hard. I don't know how
not to work extremely hard. In amongst all the girls who were groups and chattering, and I
wasn't part of them. Um, parents, and this uncle of mine who I had a very close
relationship with, persuaded me to get a different job and I we-, then went to Magdalene
College, which was entirely different world with the lovely view of the gardens and the old
buildings and these beautifully mannered fellows and, significance there was, one day the
bursar rang up my, I was 18, rang up my parents and said, can't you do something about
Avril's hearing? And sent me to a specialist who said, no there's nothing could be done to
help you. It would either kill your hearing completely, or, uh, you know it's not, it's not worth
doing anything. But I think that put me in the records for the first, I was one of the first six
people to be given a behind-the-ear hearing aid in Cambridge, which was um, oh exactly.

When would that have been?

Ohh, seventies? Um, I got a hearing aid book out, but this was a written, a, a duplicate
one. Oh this is '75, but I have a feeling that was, I ought to be able to remember. I know
BE, which lit-, just means behind the ear, came in in the seventies.

Oh ok.

So it's a replacement book, I don't know why I lost it and there's nothing in there at all.

Before the behind the ear came in, what would, would there have been there?

That was just, well, literally like that without all that. (Takes off hearing aid)

Oh ok.

Smaller. Ok, now I cannot even hear my own voice.


Right? And when you want to get up to that, that is the most brilliant thing in the world.
Have you seen these? Yeah. Absolutely- that's got a magnet in it and all the works are
inside the head.

And just clicks on

And you all come back to me.

What was the style of hearing aid before behind the ear? Was it the one where you would
have something around-?

Um, no behind the ear was literally all there, the absolute, a magnificent breakthrough, and
there were three strengths; BE11, BE30, BE50. And I worked my way through those over
the years and had a, a time I became totally deaf, 2006. Right. They had just brought in
the new digital, the 11, 30 and 50 were analogue, and they brought in, and I had for one
month only, when my hearing was really getting low. I had one month of the new digital
hearing aids, when I didn't know I had an infection. I don't, I didn't experience pain
because my eardrums weren't perfect, so I suppose the, everything could erupt through,
couldn't they? The pain is when the, hearing ai-, the eardrum is perfect and it's the
inflammation and the pressure. But I didn't experience pain, I was most surprised when I
was told, don't wear your hearing aid for a month! And um, then when I went back on the
Friday the, February 13th 2006, um after a month of medication, now I didn't hear a thing.
Um, and I was working for Ivy, Ivy Court. My, in the lip-reading department, secretarial,
running CAMTAD behind the same desk and um, obviously came up, you might be a
candidate for a cochlear implant. Because they had been going, they were only doing two
a year then Alena, in 2006.
That's amazing isn't it? They're doing about 500 a year now, but there was no government
funding. Um, I had the assessment. Uh, I was considered suitable, well there were certain
conditions, if the nerve isn't intact, the sound wouldn't go up, it- will it? Uh, so I had the
assessment and then found that I was 35th on the waiting list, and I was 70. John was 75,
so we paid 35,000 to have a cochlear implant. And that was with lots of discounts, bless
them. That's a life's experience if you'll have one! I couldn't wait, you don't wait at 70 if
you're de- Had some wonderful experiences through that year I was totally deaf, because I


didn't have the implant until November. Very interesting experiences, you don't want to
know those.

Yeah, that would be really interesting. It would, especially going from being, having
hearing to, to just totally not and then coming back. What, it-

Yeah, uh. Um, yes I'm outgoing, ok. I determined to hang on to regular, we were here,
regular routine etc. And I walked into town and my approach to, I wanted the telephone
and I could text. My approach to the sales assistants was, have you got a few spare
minutes? I'm temporally totally deaf, I lip read well but, you know, you won't be able to
serve other customers for a while. And some of them kind of walked away, but I can list
where I got good service and that was, that was good practice, that was helping them as
well as me. Um, John's sister and husband came down, we went out for a meal, and
although it seems simple, it was interesting for me. I went to the toilet of course, didn't I?
They were all sitting in the pub and I went- [barks]. No, it's not there yet either. And I went
out to look for the toilet area and I came through a bar and there was a bartender washing
all the shelves, and there was one chap sitting at a table, and I said, excuse me, you
know, where's the ladies' room? And he went on blahblahblahblah. I said, I'm sorry, look at
me will you? Um, I can't hear you. And this young man just looked up at me and he said,
you'll find it over there. You know, I could have hugged and kissed him. The awareness is
so much greater now. Its good manners, its common sense to look at someone when
you're talking to. He didn't know, obviously he didn't know, but that stuck out in my
memory, yeah. I think I probably did go and say, thanks you're brilliant. Another one,
walking the dog, stupidly making conversation forgetting I was deaf. But a car drove up,
three youths wound down the window, wanted to know the way somewhere. I said, you've
chosen a likely one, I'm totally deaf. They just looked straight at me and repeated it and we

coped. And that, you know, it really lifts you, because it means the modern, um, society,
they're taking it on board and they understand. Um, another one only recently, went for a
walk, my batteries went. Took the dog, a chappy about your age with his dog. Our two
dogs met and I could see he was talking to me, and I just said, I'm so sorry, I wear a
cochlear implant but my batteries have just gone and I've got the wrong coat on. I haven't
got any spares with me. I said, you know, don't worry, I'm, I'm fine it's just embarrassing.
And he was a little embarrassed. Went on. I caught up with him, dogs stop and start don't
they? I caught up with him. I made a comment. Um, it was over there and all the NIABs
being redeveloped. And we'd come to a field, um which had obviously being sown. And,
being me, I said, that farmer knows something we don't know, doesn't he? We thought it
was all going to be built upon this year. That was last year now. And that farmer had sown
it and was obviously going to reap, sow. Another little bit of conversation and he smiled
and he was still a bit embarrassed. And we walked on further 'til we came to the parting of
the ways. He was going straight and I was coming home here, to come home here. He
were a little bit ahead of me. Um, and I didn't call out goodbye or anything. I walked about
ten, fifteen yards down and I turned round and looked and he waved and oh, once again I
could of hugged him and kissed him! Isn't it stupid? Um, those little things mean so much.
Um, but I've gone right off track.

Um, let's go back a little bit. So you, what did you do at Magdalene College?

Magdalene College, secretarial. Got turfed out because I couldn't hear the, the bursar. Um.

You were sacked?


No, no. Um, that's when I think he rang my mother and said, for God's sake, can't you do
anything? But I was the life and soul there. You have to kind of cover up don't you, I think?
There's another reflection there as well. At school I made all the silly jokes and all the, so
that I could cover any mis-hearings. And in fact, and this only came thinking about life
stories, I was asked to represent, um, I was asked to go to the All England Netball Trials in
London. And it was a weekend event, and no way could I go amongst, for a weekend. And
they were cross with me for not going and why didn't I go? Because I wouldn't be able to
hear, and I hated myself for that when I realised. I wanted to go badly. So, that's the effect
it can have, and I drew attention to myself by being stupid I think, to cover up. And that is a
normal reaction I'm sure.

Um, so how long were you at Magdalene for?

Say it again?

Sorry, how long were you at Magdalene for?

Oh, another one or two years. Uh, and this gentlemen used to go to King's College and he
used to cycle past and we used to see him and we got talking together. He worked at
King's for 50- 45 years. Started off with short trousers when he was fifteen and ended up
as Chief Clerk.


Yeah. Um, yeah sorry that just came looking out the office window and seeing John go by.
Then I went on to Co-operative Advertising, and that was a very interesting job. Um, I liked

the business side of it, completely different to this gentle, well-mannered college life. But a
gardener's boy fell in love with me. Why did that come in? Isn't that funny! Um, and
enjoyed that. A big buxom advertising manager didn't seem to have any problems with my

Um, whereabout was this? Where like-

Burleigh Street, Co-operative Advertising.

Oh ok. Where was that on Burleigh Street? Is that where the-?

Uh, part of, it's all been pulled down now because of the um, redevelopment in there,


But it was literally, I think there was a shoe shop downstairs and I had to go through a
murky passage and go upstairs, a little advertising, um.

Wow. When would this have been? What, what date roughly?

Uh- I got married from there, I got, '59, so '56, Yes, I got married from there so it would
have been, yeah, well no, late 50's.


Would you like to tell me a little bit about how you met um, you said you were, you said
that you, you saw your husband going past on his bike. Um, do you want to tell me a little
bit more about that and how you met and courted and stuff? If you wouldn't mind?

Right, my love of sport took me to, uh, playing table tennis. I used to play and there was
very little table tennis training facilities for women then, girls. Um, and I went to St.
George's mens' club to play table tennis, and John lived along the road, and his father
played snooker in the same, and brought John now and again. And John came and talked
to me a lot, but I didn't reply and he thought I was snooty, but somehow something
sparked, we'll have to ask him! And uh, his first date, we had a table tennis match, and he
said he had to pluck up courage to come and see me and suggest he took me to this table
tennis match in Cherry Hinton on the back of his motorbike! And he knocked, he went up
and down Histon Road, cos that's where I lived, trying to pluck up courage. When he got
there I was all in curlers, I'd just washed my hair. Isn't it lovely? Oh, and it just went from
there I suppose. Uh, the life story is interesting that um, I have a friend, Jackie, backtrack a
bit, when I came to live here when I was nine and I went to Milton Road School, one of the
first sad memories I remember is a teacher going down the corridor, and I can see it as a
silhouette, it's that imprinted in my mind, with his arm round the girl because her mother
had just died. And we are still friends with them and um, 70 years friendship, which is
rather lovely. And she married John's best friend. So Jackie and I were best friends, the
two Johns were best friends, isn't that fascinating? And we, we still, yeah. And we, Jackie
and I just go out there and talk and, two Johns go in there and we don't stop talking. That
is something you won't get much today, isn't it? 70 years of friendship. Yeah, it's rather

How old were you when you got married?


26? '59, come on, you'll have to work it out.


No I was younger than 36, uh, 23, 24?

24. 23 or 24. Ah lovely.

I had my first child at 26, that's right.

Where did you get married?

Uh, Arbury Road Baptist Church. Because the other one wanted 500 for us to get married
there. The other one on the Arbury Estate wanted 500, so sorry no, we're

That must have been, back then, that must have been a huge amount.

It was new, yeah well it was. And it was new, a new church and they were asking for
funding, so. No, we went to Arbury Road Baptist. Very very friendly, very nice. And I had
St. John Ambulance, oh I haven't said that, have I? St. John Ambulance guard of honour.

Were you in St. John's Ambulance?

Mm. Right from, right from the very beginning. Yeah, when I came here.


What sort of stuff did you do with them?

Competitions, we won a lot of competitions.

What sort of competitions?

First Aid and Nursing.

Ok. Did you like, do, go to events and stuff and? Cos that's where I always see St. John's
Ambulance these days, looking after people at like concerts and stuff.

Yeah we did um, oh Scrambles. We were on duty at Scrambles. Anything, we'd, Jackie
and I, we'd go up. And competitions together. We went to London, we won the finals once
I think. The caring attitude came out there. And there was a team, team leader, one two
three four, I was four. I had to do all the dirty work. You know, you all have responsibilities.
You couldn't rely upon my hearing so I was the one who um, guided the traffic if it was a
traffic, um, cleared up and all that kind of um, very happily. Yeah, we had our meetings in,
it's not there any more; Petty Cury, Falcon Yard. You won't know it. Petty Cury is all build
over isn't it? And there was a very very fishy, it was over the fishmongers.

So, um, you were at the Co-operative Advertising. Um, how long were you there for and
where did you go after that and-?

Got married, moved to Cherry Hinton. Were there for five years, had the two kids. And we
didn't know at the time, but there was a slaughterhouse at the end of the road; Neale


Close, Cherry Hinton. And uh, we bought our house there for 2,184. We bought this house
for 3,500! Its 300,000 now.

Tell me a little bit about your children, please?

Uh, very proud of them yes. The eldest one, um, two daughters. Uh, the eldest one lives in
Histon. We're very very lucky to have her and we are now, the tide- the relationship's
changed, we're the kids and uh-. Um, just on that changing, you know, how are your
mum? Yeah. Uh, the youngest one is in Ross-on-Wye, her 17th century farmhouse. Are
you ready? Llamas, reindeer, alpacas, uh, zebras, raccoon, coatimundi, owls, pigs, geese,
ducks, and she's a business management consultant! They both loved animals, and our
way of, taming them? I don't know. They never had loads and loads of boyfriends, but they
had loads and loads of animals. We had, in that corner, we had and John made it all. Look
around at see all the woodwork and you must see his woodwork it is absolutely lovely. Um,
he made them cages and things, and we had cages all around the garden and we had
ferrets, we had chinchillas. My greenhouse, my 18 foot greenhouse, um, was uh, an
aviary. They had rats, mice, bank voles, and at one stage they said, mum, do you think the
people on the estate would like us to look after their animals while they're on holiday? So I
did a little notice, they delivered it and one summer we had cages all around the lawn, only
healthy animals accepted. Um, and, you know, that kept them focussed at home, started
off with one guinea pig, and uh, the elder one went on to be a guinea pig judge. Um, their
love of animals and, as I say, the younger one, Lindsay, has 58 acres. She's a business
management consultant. She's got all these animals and they invite conferences to them,
her husband's a psychologist and they both were giving talks all over the world and
decided it was about time people came to them instead, so they converted their double
garage into a conference centre. And of course, they get all those because they like to

come and see the animals. Oh it's, it's lovely. Uh, we haven't been, John's, I didn't come to
see you because John's had a hip replacement and uh, we were housebound for a while.
And we haven't been there for two years and I'm dying to go. Love it there. Work hard all,
morning to night.

Um, do you think that, um, your deafness, um, aff-, did that have an impact on the way
you raised your children in any sense at all? Or on their perceptions or anything?

Made them more aware, which is no bad thing. Made my eldest one embarrassed
because one of her friends said, your mum never talks to me. She stood up for me, um,
did you know my mum wasn't very good at hearing? Um, that was no bad thing, was it?
Um, I haven't let it, it's a bit of a nuisance now. As you get older things annoy you more.
You know, you can't read the print or you co- you can't open a package, well I'm applying
that to my deafness now, I am really fed up with it now. I don't like admitting it but um, it's
come to that stage. I could do without it! But the noise more.

Have you always had tinnitus?

Yes, I remember it as standing on a netball pitch with the ball. I was always centre court.
And my games teacher looking at me and talking to me and she looked like a fish out of
water. But at that young age I didn't know what it was and I just thought, well everyone
else can hear. That's another one-off memory that came back much later, you know, and
made me kind of cower down a bit. Um, but it was because of the noise in my head and at
that age, my childish decision was that I'd been running around so hard, and you can see I
get warm very easily. John's so cold, I have to live out there in the evenings. Um that it
was the blood flow, a rapid blood flow made this noise in my head, so I accepted it. And I

think there must be something in that. Excuse me. They don't, they don't agree with me,
but it's got to be, because stress makes anything worse and, well known isn't it? So you
have to, you know, pop yourself in a jar and put the cork in.

Do you have strategies or methods that you can use, techniques you can use to help?

Oh yes, I can lie in bed, I have to do it every night, deep breathe. And I actually can feel I
have reduced the tinnitus, but I'm ashamed to say I take half a sleeping pill otherwise I
would not, and that's with the sanction of my doctor, so.

Um, so we got up to you, you're at the co-op advertising and you had your daughters.

Am I still there?

Now we've gone on to, what, what happened, um, so you had your daughters.

I got married.

You got married, you had, um, your daughters, what happened next? Where, what uh?

Right. We decided to come back and live here for 3,500.

That was move from Cherry Hinton?



Sorry. That was a move from Cherry Hinton to here?

To here, yes. By this time the, uh, laundry was doing well and the nursery, Scotsdale
nursery started down, I'm pointing there, if you go down Histon road further, there's a
driveway that is now all to be demolished and rebuilt on, I've got the plans over there,
which is shocking. Um, and it was possible that they would need secretarial help there. My
parents suggested this also because we had a slaughterhouse at the end of the road in
Cherry Hinton. And time was ripe and we came here, and I think actually my parents were
getting older then and wanted me near, nearby. John's parents lived over by St. George's
mens' club where I played table tennis. Um, so we came here. That school had just
opened, so the cat used to follow them to school, sit on the brick wall and stay there until
they came out again. Uh, they were only remembering that the other day. Yeah. And we
had puppies and dogs out there, and John build the initialYeah, we got married, we've
moved here, the children have grown up.

What, what then?

Oh right, yes. Dorothy Parry. Yeah. I lost, I still had hearing in both ears, and all of a
sudden the hearing. Right, we've missed out, I then went to work at King's College,
secretarial. It was quite sweet to say that there was um, oh I've forgotten his name, a
lovely old professor who was stone deaf and they asked me to do his letters for him. And I
was secretary to the steward. Um, very very happy there. That's right, yes well done,
you've brought me up to date. Very very happy there, once again lovely atmosphere.
During that time I lost the hearing totally and someone said to me in audiology, have you
considered doing lip-reading? No I hadn't. I considered I was quite a good lip reader but I
saw the sense in it. And walking the children around the estate, you can just about see

that bungalow there, right. I noticed the little lady doing her gardening wore a hearing aid
and I said, I've been told to attend lip-reading, will you come with me? And we went to see
Dorothy Parry, the, the name must mean something to you, yeah? And she was at old
Addenbrooke's and you can, you see King's College across the road more or less. I
started attending lip-reading. Um, took Evelyn with me, that's Evelyn she's now died, but
her 94 year-old husband is alive. No, this is an important part because uh, beginning of
CAMTAB there. Uh, had been going to lip-reading with Mrs Dorothy parry, you must
mention of her. I found those, but that was when she was very early, probably when I first
started lip-reading, you can have one of those if you wish. They only came, she died. I was
with her, I was holding her hand when she died. Um, small, dynamic, uh, wore a hearing
aid. I remember Evelyn and I going to see her for the first time, and she made this great
play of taking her hearing aid out and looking for the batteries, you know just to tell us that
she. But she was um, an English, University, English with honours, she knew what she
was about. And she was, at that stage, 70 and they were saying, you ought to retire from
being a lip-reading teacher. She was one of very few lip tea- reading teachers in the
country and she was excellent and I was in her class. It grew very slowly, but I started
taking, I've always loved plants, I started taking plants in to sell, she was always saying
she needed funds to do this that and the other. Then I started typing the odd letter for her,
I think she had her eye on me. And she had this bee in her bonnet that when she retired,
she should do something about a charity to help deaf people cos there was nothing. Avril?
Um, she did a lot, cos I was still working at King's, she did a lot of the first two years of the
work with her lip-readers who were qualified, such as a solicitor um, a managing director of
Fisons, no less, were in her classes and they formed the constitution. She got Christopher
South of Cambridge Evening News fame. She got the director of um, director of Social
Services and Shire Hall, John Melanie, something to do with the council, on her first
committee and said, we need a charity to help the deaf. And she took two years to get the

constitution right and everything and then she said at one lip-reading class, Avril we're
having a meeting. Do you think you can come along? And I didn't know what she was
talking about and uh, I went along and came out of that meeting having found myself
elected, um, secretary. And her ideas for, and they were bloody brilliant and it's still going
today and it's got branches all over and it's got a solicitor as the director and it is doing
wonderful work and I'm still a volunteer.

This is CAMTAD?

It was CAMTAD first of all. Cambridge, uh, Campaign for Tackling Acquired Deafness, ok?
First letters. Which Christopher South hated, because it didn't suggest anything in its, it
was all capital letters, C.A.M.T.A.D., ok? And two years ago our new director has changed
it to Cambridgeshire, that's cos I don't- Hearing Help Service! I'm showing my age aren't I?
Cambridgeshire Hear-

When was this? When was CAMTAD formed?

1978. I know that.

And really there was just no help for, no support?

There wasn't before then. No, nothing.

The campaign was called acquired deafness, so if people who were say, born-?


There was a very good service, Bernard Gollop? No, yes? For the, this is where Caroline
would have come in, um, very very good service for the profoundly deaf, the born deaf, the
signers, but nothing for those who acquire a hearing loss. Uh, I think they're knitting closely
together more now.

Well they're in the same building.

Mm, yeah. Um, socially, um, theoretically, I mean the volunteers all have a hearing loss
themselves, so I can go in and say, yeah it's awful isn't it? Have you tried this and, from
personal experience. You can't beat that. Um, and we're still doing it today and we're still
finding people who didn't know all sorts of things. The hospital cannot, have not got that
time, they're not deaf themselves. I'm, you know, getting on my soapbox. Um, no,
absolutely brilliant and it was her idea. Um, the first visits were carried out with me on my
bike with um, a maternity box full of all the equipment on the back, Literally to find out, you
know, what needs to be done. The first training was done about 1980 and Ivy Court- ah,
thank you, you've pulled me back. So this was while I was working at King's College. My
boss was a very good steward, and he was head-hunted from London, and the new boss
was Alain Chaiance with the most beautiful French accent, which killed me. At about the
same time, I mean he would swing round, haven't we Avril? And I didn't know what he was
talking about. I can remember walking the dog with John and crying my eyes out, I couldn't
cope with it any more. I'd forgotten that, so you've just brought that. And at the same time,
Dorothy retired, Ivy Court was employed, she wanted a secretary. Isn't it amazing how
people, things fall in place? And so, I went across the road and became secretary to the
lip-reading department and ran CAMTAD behind the same desk. So in fact, the NHS were
almost paying the rent for CAMTAD, but it worked very well because the, it all overlapped
didn't it? Yeah, I'd forgotten that little bit. That was interesting wasn't it? But, to keep up to

date, Staffordshire last year said they were not going to issue hearing aids any more for
mild and moderate hearing loss, and luckily RNID or AHOL have all got together and
persuaded them to think about it again because of the implications. And I maintain
Cambridge, with CAMTAD or CHH, has got so much help that they can cope. So the
benefits are enormous to get a self-help voluntary group for every disability, as long as
there's good leadership and abiding by the rules.

The, the value is in the user, being user um, user-led, so you have experience yourself?

Yes, absolutely.

Because then you know exactly?

Absolutely, mm. Mm. Yeah, absolutely. I'm, um, CHH are invited to give talks to Anglian
Ruskin University now to trainee, um, dispensers. They could be private hearing aid
dispensers, they're being trained for their job. Cor, I get my hands on them! Um, and I
maintain you know, personal experience, shared personal experience. And they've got the
best job in the world but they've jolly well got to do it well. Because it's going to be so much
of a greater problem, uh, with the noise. Um, and the dementia problem is now being
linked of course.

People, the population just generally getting older. More people will have hearing loss so.

Yeah, yeah. Tell me. Yeah, yeah.

Interesting. So this about 1980 that this, that CAMTAD formed? Is that right, 19-?

Sorry, late, late?

Late, arou-, about 1980 when?

Sorry, '78 it was formed. Really got going at about '80. I think I got paid for the first time in
1985, and that was through Dorrie, Dorothy making a covenant and she got the OBE for
that. She made a covenant for the first four years. And I can remember sitting up in my
office and receiving the first county council check and, you know, um, to cover the salary
and to continue and now we are funded by the hospital and the county coun- I say we, um,
sorry it-.

So you were working full time for CAMTAB?

Not full time, was always part time.

And what else were you doing at that, at that stage?

I dont think I had time for much else. Um, no I, I left King's and I went over to, yeah,
secretary. And we just developed and developed and developed. We got a van. Um, we
opened hearing help sessions. We've now got 45 hearing sessions around the countrcounty. Um, uh, involving Huntingdon, I don't think Peterborough's in it so much, Fenland.
It's brilliant, all meeting, I'm not involve-, I'm not on, I'm just a volunteer now, but still a
hard-working volunteer and only having to give up because I can't do much else because
I'm dizzy, my sight, everything is going. But I was at Manor Care Ho-, look. I was at Manor


Care Home uh, as I say and um, really enjoy sharing experiences and giving a bit of light
in people's lives. Yeah.

Um, you mentioned earlier about the um, the difference in service provision for people who
are profoundly deaf and people with acquired deafness.


It seems to me that there, there is still almost a slight, I'm not sure if rivalry is the right word
to use, between those two groups? What is your opinion, um, on, on that? Are you saying
from the people's angle themselves or organisation?

Yeah, why. Just generally why- do you thi- what, what's your opinion on that? Do you see
similarities? Do you see differences? What do you think is the, the way it should be? Do
you think that its right there should be a delineation? Do you think that they have perhaps
more in common than they have different?

Right at the very beginning, now I held six exhibitions to get the work of CAMTAD known;
library, Alexander the Great Church, had for a whole week and invited all the societies, lipreading, audiology and they all came, gave an exhibit there. And I can remember, this is
why I remember this, um, the first exhibition we had up in the library, mezzanine gallery,
and a profoundly deaf person came up, challenged me with almost similar remark and we
got on fine. He more or less challenged why hadn't we got more for the deaf? I said, I
asked them to come, in fact they had a flood. And they didn't turn up. That's still having
that problem down in Romsey Terrace. Still having that problem. Um, I don't see any
division. I'm trying to put it carefully. He challenged me and I said, he tun- why don't you

sign? I don't need to. Why don't you lip-read? No, I wouldn't, it was bat and ball for a little
while. I don't need to sign because I can hear some, but I'm very happy, baby, TV, cram,
all that kind of thing is picture language isn't it? I think we left friends but there has been,
we always share meetings, we're always given information about, especially when
CAMTAD moved to above Romsey Terrace. The CAMTAD office, CHH offices are above
The Deaf Association which are, look as though they're going up in the world a bit. Um, all
been repainted, I don't, I, I have never worked there in an office. Uh, it was my successor
who moved there, they wanted larger premises. Um, but I don't see that as a challenge
and I, whenever, sitting in a waiting room, profoundly deaf kids, I always make a
conversation with them. But it's your confidence as an adult, I think, that makes you happy
to talk, like the cochlear implant kids up here. I know she's profoundly deaf, she's got two
white ones. And, hello. You know, it's so simple isn't it? Um, I think they've drawn closer.
The provision, when CAMTAD started, there was no provision for acquired deafness, but
Bernard Gollop had a raging very successful organisation for profoundly deaf because
they needed it. They had to be separate because it was all with their hands. No-one can
go out and learn that in a day, it's got to be used. The exams are pretty tough aren't they? I
mean, wonderful to watch Caroline. She played an important part, don't let me forget, she
played an important part in CANTAD, organisation of CANTAD. She sent me a letter, so
we're in our early '80's now. She had received a letter from Sarabec, which is a firm that
manufactures, uh, environmental equipment for the hard of hearing. And there was one
line in that letter she said, Avril you might like to take this up. We are producing loop
systems and are prepared to give, don't know what the exact wording, a loop system as an
example for charities. WOW! To cut a long story short, the Managing Director came on our
training course to learn what deaf people needed. Sarabec is Sarah and Rebecca, his
nieces, and Rick Royal was his name. He's passed on, I can't imagine, uh, not dead but
gone elsewhere. Colin Foxton actually came and trained our volunteers only a couple of

years ago from Sarabec, so, its working. But that was in the 70's, the first loop system
came because Caroline, social worker for the deaf, gave us this letter and we immediately
said, we want. And we've gone from there in great strength. The equipment now, I mean
when we started there were five things, and there must be 5,000 pieces of equipment to
help the deaf now. I, now that little man across the road, his, her husband made my first
loop system. We were going to lip-reading classes together still and our lip-reading teacher
had this information even before Sarabec offered it us. And he's got a history you'd love,
he's a war veteran. And they lived there in the war, he's 94 now. And his memories are
there and we encourage him. He um, was a radio controller in a Catalina and saw service
everywhere, but because of his knowledge and everything he made my first loop system.
And he'll tell you without any prompting of the look on my face when I heard the loop for
the first time. It was a musical and he, he will never forget that. So um, anyway, equipment
has gone all up to Bluetooth and way beyond now, but so, do include that because that is
important. It was a, a leap, a step, isn't it? And I think Caroline uh, appreciated, um, how
well we could work together. Yeah, glad I didn't forget that.

Um, what changes have you, uh, there are two parts to this question really. Um, I'd like to
know, um, how you think people's attitudes have changed over the years to um, deafness
and to disability in general. But especially, almost in two halves, the time from up until you
formed CAMTAD, the changes that you saw then. And then the changes that you were,
almost, that you yourself brought about as part of your work there and stuff like that?

It wasn't me myself, it was CAMTAD, but wasn't 1981 the year of the disabled person?
Can you remember that?

Year of the Handicapped, yeah, UN Year of the Handicapped, that's right.


That was very very helpful, yeah yeah. Yeah. And that was a national thing, wasn't it?
Yeah. So we, we used that as much as we could. I think attitudes are wonderful. I went to
give a talk to this school, they had a fire. Um, shortly, briefly, I went upstairs to draw the
curtains at 7 o'clock one night and saw flames going up into the sky. Um, many years ago
now, don't ask me to date it, but I was asked to go back and talk to the children and I had
understood it was a one-to-one. Um, they were doing a project or something. And I got
there, there was a whole class and I said wow, I'm sorry, I understood this was one-to-one.
Um, you have kiddies here who have a cochlear implant, I'm totally deaf. Here it is, what
that means, I need you to identify yourself and speak clearly, and that went beautifully.
And what I'm saying there is, mix with um, people with a disabilities, let them tell you what
they want, how best to talk to them. Uh, I wrote to the school afterwards and said, you are
producing citizens who will go out into the world and be so helpful, thank you so much.
That was lovely, you, you've got to be able to express yourself quite openly without
embarrassment, haven't you? I think attitudes have changed enormously. Um, ok I'm not
so way. aware of the other handicaps but uh - I, I think it raised the fact that you can talk
about these things now, rather than be, as I was, ashamed, inadequate. Um, that has
helped me enormously, being able to say. I mean, I run this Mayfield Seniors' group. I
often say, do you think I'm a bit deaf or something? I didn't get that. And of course, fits of
laughter. But at the same time I've been able to help them, persuaded them to go and get
their hearing checked. Free hearing test. I use the loop system but I left it at CAMTAD, and
they still let me have it, it's upstairs. Um, it just goes on and on and on. Once you've
helped someone and had the satisfaction of helping someone, you, you, part of life. And
what's this world about? You know.


Um, so you see. You have, you have, you have optimism, would you say, for the future?
For the future of people with, who who experience hearing loss?

No for the world, no. The world is going downhill. In fact I've said recently I think this world
is coming to an end with the weather, all the strife, and the, no it's horrible. Um, future with
better understanding, better intelligence. You've just to get them early though, because
um, the modern day, such as at The Manor I had a new lady, very happy to see her,
cleaned, re-tubed both hearing aids, gave her some batteries. What room are you in dear?
I'm sorry, I don't know, my son does all this. Have you been here long? I don't know. I don't
know how long I-. Don't worry, you're being looked after, you're warm, that's the only thing.
But there's an increasing amount of, and was it because she didn't get help early enough?
And I think this is the crux, you've got to. I received, 1990, went to London and got an
award. All right, this was just the beginning of CAMTAD. And there was a quote there and
I've lost it cos John's come out. Um, yeah, I remember, and one of the things that I said
there, I think someone had said they ought to make a mandatory hearing test for everyone
in their 60's, 50's, because it starts earlier than that, and that gives them the ten years to
make up their mind to do something about it. Because if they do it in their 60's and it's
identified, they're going to be 70, past some of it. And I think the only way we can beat this
current dementia is by checking on communication skills and hearing at an earlier age,
taking longer time to absorb the need to get help, and getting help. I think that's, you know,
there's no money is there?

How do you feel that changes to government, changes to government legislation have
affected things for um, not necessarily in a political sense, although political if, if you wish
to go that way, but just in terms of the fact that, at the moment we're suffering budget cuts
and things like that, that the money isn't there. Um, do you see that having an effect?

Yes of course. Can't have, do anything else. But they'd be very good to encourage and
support volunteer groups, which saves them money in the long run. I mean, I would very
much like someone to take up a case of the areas where there are strong volunteer
support groups helping. I mean there must be other; arthritic, diabetic groups going, and
that must take the burden off. If they could do- instead of cutting grants to well-run
volunteer groups, they could create grants to create well-run, and they'd be better off. I, I'm
not a political animal, I don't want to be. But, um, you've got to help yourself to help others,
haven't you?

What changes do you think could happen within society to improve things for people with
hearing impairment or disability in general?

I think society's going the right way as long as there is the support and the organisations,
what changes...

And education, you see education as being important in this?

Well, there are so many hearing support units now, it's wonderful. Um, yeah, no, you
know, just carry on in that way. I don't know much about the, um, grant system for

Um, you were, um, you went to a mainstream school I take, uh? Um, and there was a
move towards um, special schooling for people with disabilities, for deaf, deaf schools.
But not anymore, um, it's again it's back to generally mainstream schooling. What do you,
do you, do you think that's correct that it should be, that it should just, there should be no
segregation and it should, cos this is something that's come up quite a lot in interviews, is

that quite a lot of people who have, were, with different disabilities, went to a special
school, and generally there's a feeling of resentment. That they would have preferred to be
mainstream and to-

Yeah. Integrated.


I, it does the normal kids a lot of good as well.

Yes, I agree totally.

I agree with that, I agree with the integration as long as there is that special care at that
mainstream school. As I say, it does the normal kids as much good as it does the people
with disabilities. No, I strongly am for integration, yeah, but I don't know the situation so I
couldn't comment on it, uh. I can only take in so much.

Um, what do you think the future holds for you?

Tinnitus is the uh, the bugbear, and I'm very very hopeful that they can get something to
eliminate it. I read about two or three years ago that there was a professor working on a
cochlear implant just to reduce tinnitus. Um, yes I would like sound to that ear. You plug
one ear and you'll know the difficulties and the extra effort you need, which is adding to all
the other problems. Um you know, no direction. Crossing the road. Where's that noise
coming from? The car. Um, the dog tells me. Um, I would volunteer to be the first
experimental to try a cochlear implant to reduce that sound. It would be lovely to have no

noise. I used to, in that book I've got, um, I don't think these are in there, diagrams. I used
to, just to help me, I used to draw my tinnitus and you get it described as high-pitched
screams, a handful of marbles. And mine has now gone full depth and is a wave of music.
I have my musical hallucinations, they call it. It's the official term. They can be lovely, but if
you hear, what's my most common one? Moon River, for three or four days on end, you
get a bit fed up with it! You try to sing a different song hoping that the head will take it over.
No it's, there is no peace, there is never any peace and I need it. Um, and it's, you know, I
need a psychiatrist, a cold-hearted psychiatrist to sit down and say, shut up and get on
with it! Which I've had to do all my life. Um, that is my bugbear, sorry. Even while I'm sitting
here, you know, it's, never mind. My, you don't have to think about. Times I've advised
other people. I've run the Hard of Hearing group for 30 years, a Tinnitus group for 20
years, CAMTAD. So I'm doing my best to help myself through, and that's the best way to
do it I think. It does help but it's getting hard because you've got to hear over the noise and
not being well has been quite hard. I think it's probably why it's the extreme situation it is at
the moment. I had, I've got blood pressure problems as well, I've got to go back for the
fourth time and I said to the nurse yesterday, um I just need a holiday and she came back,
take me with you. You need a nurse to go as well. I thought it was lovely!

I there anything we haven't spoken about that you'd like to talk about?

I expect there will be. No, I'm very very lucky to have been in this um, century where this
has developed I suppose.

The technology really has made a difference, do you mean?


I uh, also am very lucky to be a positive and a happy person because I'm sure that would
have happened if I was not. I mean, I say, just that walk this morning. The same every
morning, but the people I spoke to. But nothing, we don't even know each other
sometimes. Um, can make all the difference. Wake up feeling miserable, come back
feeling. And you've got to look for the positive I suppose, haven't you? It's why I don't like
my voice, it's awful and I think it's through this. I think you've heard that you don't
recognise music, have you? It's not an electronic sound but it is not a normal sound.
Alright, cochlear implants, they tell you to listen to nursery rhymes, because you remember
the sounds and it trains your memory.

Right, to associate?

Yeah, yeah. And see those four books there? They're aren't the actual books I read but
that's Jane Austen. I lay out there reading Jane Austen while listening to it on tape and
someone won those in a raffle for me, just coincidental. But that is such an important thing
to me. It helped me retrain the brain to hear and recognise the sounds again. That's very
very imp- I lay out there for an hour a day and went through those Jane Austen books, and
I'm convinced that's what's helped me go better. But my voice, and I can't sing any more,
that's a fact. I've wanted, I've always sung out loud and I wanted to join a choir, one of my
ambitions. And uh, have you heard there's a choir? Forgotten what it's called. Anyway,
they came to sing up the Mayfield School and to recruit new people. And I emailed her and
said, have you had, had a cochlear implantee? And she said, no I've had um, I've had
some deaf people. I said, but I don't think I can sing any more. Would you, would you
come and talk to me, come and meet me? And I had to repeat some notes and she said
no! It's quite odd and it's, it's very interesting but you cannot- When I'm- there's fields over


there, I can take the dog when it's dry and I sing and I can hear five different notes for the
one that I sing.
It's very interesting. So I, I don't know which one I'm reproducing. You gauge your voice as
to what you can hear, don't you? So I'm quite lost. I still sing! But I would hate to
embarrass anyone and I think now that I just couldn't, it would add to the pressure in my
head I think.