Belfast Telegraph

Eamonn Holmes has been wearing hearing aids for last eight years

By Gillian Halliday

Eamonn Holmes has revealed that he has been wearing hearing aids for the past eight years after he discovered his ability to discern sound had declined by 30%.

The broadcaster (58), who presents the drivetime show for talkRADIO, said that he began to fear that he might have a problem with his hearing at his 50th birthday party in 2010, when the noisy celebrations led to him repeating phrases such as "pardon" and "excuse me" during conversations with guests.

His fears were confirmed by a hearing test.

Despite assurances by an audiologist that there was nothing unusual in a loss of 30% for someone of his age, the Belfast-born journalist, who was working for Sky News at the time, said he was concerned by the diagnosis.

"No one warns you that your hearing is going to go down from 50. People my age, we're not ready for that. Learning that a third of your hearing has gone is not the best birthday present", he said, in an interview in the Daily Telegraph.

Eamonn plucked up the courage to tell his wife, fellow broadcaster Ruth Langsford, over a lunch meal by asking her if she noticed if he was wearing anything out of place.

He added: "Eventually I said: 'Do you not see what I'm wearing? She said: 'What am I supposed to be looking at?'"

He then urged her to look at his ears, and revealed that he was wearing a hearing aid.

They are not items that he chooses to wear all the time, he said, adding that he opts only to wear them at social occasions when background sounds can make it difficult for him to follow conversations. The passionate Manchester United fan said that a decade later, he now had the confidence to speak out.

His decision was prompted by fellow high-profile celebrities around his age, such as Jo Whiley, and Martin Kemp, also speaking out about their hearing difficulties, helping to banish the stigma surrounding hearing aids.

"These days, I'm frustrated when I don't have my aids with me. I feel liberated by them," he added.

Eamonn went on to say that he also wants to raise awareness of the established link between hearing loss and dementia. Even those with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop the disease - a fact Eamonn says he was completely unaware of until it was disclosed to him by an audiologist.

Dementia is also what Ruth's father died of back in 2012.

"Anything that flags up a health condition such as dementia has to be taken seriously," Eamonn added.

"Early intervention in so many ways can either prevent decline, or preserve better health for longer."

The interview also touched on Brexit, prompting Eamonn to give a rather pragmatic assessment on the issue from his Northern Ireland perspective, citing technological advances as a way forward.

"It's very complicated," he added. "People who didn't care for us before are using us now. But we are an amazingly resilient people. Whether there is a new border or not, we will manage.

"I think there have been huge advances made in a borderless Ireland and they will find a way to keep it that way with new technology. There will be a way, there has to be a way."

Eamonn - who will receive an OBE for services to broadcasting on June 1 - said he was "shocked" by the recent deaths of fellow TV presenter Dale Winton, aged 68, and former footballer Ray Wilkins (61).

He admitted that he is in "a bit of a hurry" to see more of the world as a result, but assures fans that he doesn't want to slow down his work.

He added: "I look back at the last 38 years and think, 'Where did that go?' I don't feel any older than 25.

"You get these big shocks. Dale Winton, Ray Wilkins, Eric Bristow, have all died in the past few weeks at the age of 60 or thereabouts. My own father died at 64, of a heart attack. "It puts you in a bit of a hurry to do things - see the Northern Lights, the Rio carnival, Mount Rushmore and have a look around Washington DC.

"I want to spend more time in Belfast. But if you are defined by what you do, if you suddenly stop, who are you, really?"

Belfast Telegraph

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