A Lancashire military veteran has been given the chance to do his “dream job” of being a paramedic after his hearing, which was severely damaged while serving oversees, was restored.
Darren Young started to notice difficulties with his hearing 15 years ago when on his first tour in Iraq with the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
Darren, from Warton, near Kirkham, said: “We received personal radios for driving and walking around, but I really struggled to hear people talking through them and then one day while in Iraq, I woke up and I had absolutely no hearing in my right ear.
“Noise suppression boxes weren’t given in Iraq and there was so much noise when I was on tour – the sound of machinery, people shouting and explosions.”
And Darren’s hearing loss also had an effect on his personal as well as professional life, with him struggling to hear his newborn daughter cry.
The 38-year-old, who also toured in Madeira, Portugal, and Canada up until the end of his 13 year military career six years ago, said: “When my younger daughter was born earlier this year I realised I really couldn’t hear very well and I needed to do something about it.
“I even struggled to hear her cry which, for a newborn, is quite something.”
Darren left the Army to focus on his wife Marie and four children – as well as aspirations to continue public service as a paramedic.
He added: “When I first came out I was truck driving but it left me unfulfilled. I spoke to my wife about it and she said you were talking about being a paramedic when you first came home, why don’t you go for it.”
But because of his hearing, he found plans to become a paramedic more difficult due to the importance of awareness when on time-sensitive, and potentially lifesaving, call outs.
Concerned, Darren went to digital hearing company Hidden Hearing in Lytham where he was found to have hearing loss not just in his one “bad ear”, but in both.
He was quoted £3,000 for the basic hearing aids.
Darren, a former Non-Commissioned Officer in the British Army, said: “I was like ‘wow’. We said we will have to go away and think about this because it’s a lot of money.”
And not only that, Darren found that the anxiety brought on by the revelation left him constantly looking over his shoulder “for some unknown reason”.
It left Darren thinking his paramedic dreams could well be over, but seeing how he had nearly given up on his paramedic dreams, audiologist Elaine Norris from Hidden Hearing nominated him for free hearing devices as part of the company’s support for the National Campaign for Better Hearing, to help raise awareness of the importance of having annual hearing tests.
Elaine said: “Many people ignore their hearing problems until it’s too late which can affect their health and quality of life.
“Even if you’re young like Darren, getting your hearing tested is so important.
“It’s so lovely to see Darren enjoy being able to hear again.”
Darren added: “Elaine rang me and said because of what I had done and was trying to do with being a paramedic I was a really good candidate for the campaign.
“I can now train for my dream job.”
Following a successful stint first at Runshaw College to get his English and Maths GCSEs followed by the Open University, where he achieved his Level One qualifications in Health Science and Psychology, Darren has now submitted an application to the University of Central Lancashire for his training to be a paramedic.
Darren said: “If you have any concerns about your hearing, just go and get a hearing test. It’s free.
“No matter what age you are it’s important to get regular tests, I’m a prime example of that.
“It’s such a simple process and isn’t at all invasive and best of all it can change your life as it has done mine.”