The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

Let The Deaf Hear

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In the late 18th century Britain was a highly industrialised nation. In the North of England there were many shipyards which used rivets, not welding to build their vessels and steelworks providing the raw materials, whilst here in Yorkshire we had cotton mills and weaving machines. The connection between these diverse industries was noise! People worked in appallingly noisy environments without any protection for their ears, consequently in later life, many working people started to lose their hearing.

One of my most likeable actors is Sir Michael Caine, who when being interviewed on talk shows and about to regale his listeners with some antidote, he would always start by saying, “Not many people know this but.. so in the words of Sir Michael, “Not many people know this,” but the inventor of the first electric hearing aid was a man called Miller Reece
Hutchinson. He was born in Alabama in 1876 and in complete contrast his first invention to be successfully marketed was the klaxton horn. A great friend of his, was Mark Twain the author, who used to tease him by saying that he only invented the klaxton horn in order to create more customers for his hearing aids. Hutchinson’s hearing aid was portable and small enough to clip onto a belt and Queen Alexandra used one at the coronation of Edward VII, in order to improve her hearing for this important event. She was so thrilled with the results, that shortly afterwards she awarded Hutchinson a gold medal for, “Exceptional merit in the field of invention.”

Thomas Edison another famous inventor, made Hutchinson his personal assistant at his laboratories and eventually Hutchinson became his chief engineer and confidant. Hutchinson enjoyed working with Edison, but always felt that having his hearing aid accepted was the most rewarding experience in this clever man’s life. This pioneering step into a silent world is still helping thousands of people today with hearing impairment, to live a happier life, enjoying the sounds around them that we all take for granted.

Why are great people so remarkable? Is it because the people we admire so much remind us of the abundant possibilities and opportunities that are waiting for all of us?

Published Sat 23rd Feb 2013 16:47:48

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