A HUSBAND and wife are hoping to combat the stigma surrounding hearing loss.

Sam and Eleanor Owen have opened the first independent hearing care practice in Winsford.

Hummingbird Hearingcare has teamed up with Taylors Optometrists to offer a full range of hearing tests at the Dene Drive premises in the town centre.

Dad-of-two Sam, 46,said: "Having qualified as an audiologist in 2007, following my years of experience working in hospitals, GP surgeries and private clinics, and having treated many hundreds of clients I can absolutely assure you that this isn’t something you have to live with."

Hearing loss occurs gradually as we get older but one of the unusual things, says Eleanor, is that it’s often not the person with the actual problem who spots it first.

It is the husband, wife or close friend who notices and it can be very frustrating living with someone who doesn't realise their hearing is deteriorating.

"Classically people with hearing problems say the sound on the telly isn't very good, there is too much noise in the room or children are mumbling," said company director Eleanor, 46 "It can be a tricky conversation to have but not being able to hear properly can become very isolating."

More than 40 per cent of people over 50 have hearing loss rising to 71 per cent over the age of 70.

The couple, who have two children, Rosie, eight and Albert, 10, are keen to reassure people that help is available.

Winsford Guardian:

Sam Owen with one of the latest digital hearing aids Picture: Jo Conchie

"People have their eyes tested and their blood pressure checked so why not have your ears checked," said Eleanor. "When people are fitted with as hearing aid their eyes light up. We always get a lovely reaction.

"When they come back for follow up appointments it's often the partner who says it has changed their life. They don't have to shout anymore and the telly's gone back to its normal level."

Sam said: "The longer a hearing loss goes untreated, the harder it can be to put right as the brain slowly loses its ability to process sound.

"It's great to be able to offer eye care and hearing care in one place. Better still, I can also make home visits for hearing tests which is good for those who find it difficult to get out of the house."

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Andrew Riley, who took over the day to day running of Taylors Optometrists last year, said: "It is a perfect fit for us as we want to go beyond eye health to include ear health.

Winsford Guardian:

Andrew Riley, of Taylors Optometrists and Sam Owen, of Hummingbird Hearingcare, outside their premises on Dene Drive

"We are delighted with the demand for the service so far, showing a real unmet need for quality hearing care in Winsford.

"More exciting is seeing the difference that hearing care has made to our customers, seeing people move from not realising there is an issue that can be corrected to a position of clear hearing for the first time in years is hugely rewarding."