Hearing service’s new lease of life at Red Cross

A service which supports deaf and hard-of-hearing Borderers and gives them access to a range of state-of-the-art listening aids, has been saved from extinction by the British Red Cross.

The Borders branch of the international aid organisation, which has more than 100 local volunteers and offices in Galashiels and Coldstream, has taken over the role of the Borders Deaf and Hard of Hearing Network, which disbanded in August last year when the owners of the accommodation it leased in Low Buckholmside, Galashiels, went into voluntary liquidation.

“It came as a terrible shock,” recalled Jean Proudfoot from Selkirk who had been secretary of the network since its formation.

“I had always hoped that all the hard work that went into building up our services would not be lost, but without our resource centre and short of volunteers, we had no option but to call it a day.”

This week, Mrs Proudfoot, who has been overseeing the integration with Red Cross service manager Lindsay Wilson, said she was “absolutely delighted”.

A room at the Red Cross centre at Wheatlands Mill in Galashiels, where First Aid training takes place, has been adapted to accommodate a wide range of equipment, including amplified telephones, vibrating alarm clocks, TV listening aids and visual/chiming doorbells which can be borrowed with no obligation for up to two weeks to make sure each item is suitable for the individual prior to purchase.

The facility has now been accredited by BT as a ‘Try it Before you Buy Centre’.

And the public is welcome to visit on selected drop-in days for coffee and biscuits and to try out the equipment.

They are, between 10am and noon, on: February 17 and 25; March 3, 7, 24 and 31; and April 7, 14, 21 and 28. There are other days planned throughout the year.