The Petersfield Lipreaders bid farewell to their teacher of six years on Wednesday, July 5.
Kate Kelly has been teaching the class since 2017. Like her students, Kate is hard of hearing, with deafness in one ear. She described the class as a fantastic opportunity for individuals with the same disability to connect.
She added: “People get the chance to come together and share stories and support one another after going through the same journey.”
Jane White, chairman of the group, said: “Kate has been the most wonderful teacher and I am absolutely devastated that she is leaving us.”
Rob Sigley affectionately nicknamed the “techie” of the group, assists other members with their hearing aids.
He said: “Hearing loss is a very isolating disability. You can be surrounded by people and feel completely alone because you’re not part of the conversation. “The group is not just about lipreading, it is a support group. Kate has given us a number of techniques on how to navigate living with hearing loss. She makes sure the classes are fun, and because of her we are a very close group.”
Established in 2016 as a non-profit community group, the Lipreaders receive funding through donations from attendees and grants from local authorities, including recent support from the National Lottery.
Brian Knight, the group’s treasurer, said: “We do not believe people should have to pay to learn to lipread because they are deaf. That’s why the class is free, and will always be free.”
The group is open to all age groups, and allows people to meet others who have a similar hearing affliction and to enjoy the services of a qualified lip reading instructor. The class will resume in October with a new instructor at the Winton House Centre.