November 2010: Christine Cartwright from Berkhamsted has been given an award by the Hertfordshire Hearing Advisory Service (HHAS) for her long-term volunteer service.
Christine has been helping hard of hearing people for the last 20 years. She started volunteering for the charity after experiencing first-hand the difficulties of wearing a hearing aid.
"I've been wearing hearing aids since my 20s," said Christine. "If my hearing aids are broken, its depressing as I feel totally cut off and isolated. I wanted to help other people who are in a similar situation. I wish I'd had someone to go to for advice when I started wearing a hearing aid."
Christine has lived in Berkhamsted for 30 years and has three children and four grandchildren. She regularly visits Kilfillan Nursing Home in Berkhamsted to help people with their hearing aids. She also helps housebound people who are having a problem with their hearing aid and hard of hearing people in the congregation of Sunnyside Church.
She enjoys the volunteer work because of the impact it has on people by reducing isolation.
"I enjoy it as it means I can help people feel less isolated. You can make such a difference in a small amount of time - it only takes about twenty minutes to retube a hearing aid, which will allow someone to hear again," said Christine.
As well as helping hard of hearing people by offering support and basic hearing aid maintenance, Christine regularly speaks to people's families and staff at the nursing home to raise awareness of how to communicate with the hard of hearing. She says the stigma of hearing loss remains an issue and means that people are often embarrassed to seek help.
"Having hearing loss is a stigma. People often approach me for help, but don't want other people to know they wear a hearing aid. Because I wear a hearing aid, people are more comfortable asking me for help," said Christine.
Although she has already been volunteering for 20 years, Christine has no intention of giving up her volunteer role in the future. "I'll carry on as long as I can," she says.
Gary Appleby, HHAS' Volunteer Co-ordinator, said: "We are so grateful to Christine for her many year's volunteer service. She has made a big difference to the lives of the many hard of hearing people she has helped over the years."
HHAS urgently needs more volunteers in the Dacorum area to help local people suffering from hearing loss. To find out more about volunteering for the charity, contact Gary Appleby on 01707 324 582 or email@example.com.