Action on Hearing Loss president passes away

23 Apr 2012 News

Lord Ashley of Stoke, president of both Action on Hearing Loss and Deafness Research UK, died on Saturday after a short illness, at the age of 89.

Lord Ashley of Stoke

Lord Ashley of Stoke, president of both Action on Hearing Loss and Deafness Research UK, died on Saturday after a short illness, at the age of 89.

He had been president of Action on Hearing Loss since 1987 and of Deafness Research, which he co-founded as the Hearing and Speech Trust, since 1985. 

After becoming profoundly deaf in 1967 at the age of 45, one year into his Parliamentary career, Lord Ashley relied on his wife to repeat all the words spoken in the chamber. It was this experience that sparked his successful campaign to have live captioning on television.

He was inspired to launch a medical research charity after attending a conference at which scientists talked about the possibility of curing deafness by regenerating cells.  At the time, deafness was the only major disability that did not have its own charity dedicated to fundraising for research.

In 1994 he had a cochlear implant operation which restored much of his hearing.

Vivienne Michael, chief executive of Deafness Research UK, described him as a "truly inspirational man".

Action on Hearing Loss chief executive Jackie Ballard said: "Jack was a great role model to anyone with hearing loss. He was such a gentleman, very kind and very giving. He had a brilliant career before and after losing his hearing. But he wasn’t just a supporter of the deaf; he was a champion for people of all disabilities.

"Jack never stopped working for what he believed in right up until his death and would always speak up on behalf of people who are deaf or disabled. He was a tireless campaigner and there are many people in this country who have a lot to thank him for."

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