Mum’s joy as deaf girl is able to enjoy trip to Letchworth cinema

Naomi Wray with her mother Wendy Wray outside Broadway cinema in Letchworth

Naomi Wray with her mother Wendy Wray outside Broadway cinema in Letchworth - Credit: Archant

FOR most people going to the cinema is a normal thing to do, but for one girl going to the movies proved more difficult than anyone could imagine.

Naomi Wray, 12, from Letchworth GC, was born with enlarged vestibular aqueduct syndrome – a condition that affects hearing, making her profoundly deaf.

The Fearnhill School student, who lives with her parents and sister in Romeny Close, went to the Broadway Cinema for the first time this week after her mum, Wendy, rallied about 80 people to encourage staff at the cinema to show Despicable Me 2 with subtitles.

Wendy said: “It was very emotional to watch her enjoy a film, something she hasn’t been able to do in over a year. I set up a Facebook page called Mummy I Can’t Hear, and soon managed to get about 80 people together to come to the cinema so they could show it on a larger screen with subtitles.”

Wendy first realised Naomi was deaf in her left ear at the age of eight. Things took a turn for the worst when a few years later Naomi hit her head while playing on a trampoline, making her totally deaf in her right ear.

“It was very scary, we never expected it to happen like this,” said Mrs Wray. “We were told by doctors that she may go deaf in her right ear if she was involved in an accident or something more severe, but she hit her head on the knee of another child. It was literally a small tap. And the first thing she said was ‘Mummy, I can’t hear’.”

Although there are cinemas in the area that show films with subtitles, Mrs Wray, who is learning sign language to communicate with her daughter, said they are not shown regularly.

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“It was difficult when all her friends would go to the cinema, but there was no point in her going because she can’t hear anything,” she said. “The most she can hear is plates banging together, but she can’t hear human voices.”

Mrs Wray is now calling for more cinemas in the area to show films with subtitles on a regular basis.

“I would have preferred not to have to start up a Facebook page so that Naomi could go and watch a film at the cinema,” she said. “I don’t want to have to do this every time she wants to go to the cinema. It would be great if they just showed films at a reasonable time like they do any other films.”

Jason Valentine, general manager of Broadway Cinema said: “We’re happy to have helped Naomi and her mum by showing Despicable Me 2 with subtitles and were overwhelmed by the number of people who came along. We’re now looking at our forthcoming film schedule and planning to show subtitled films on a more regular basis.”

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