A clinical audiologist from Glasgow is celebrating 15 years of delivering on site help to pupils here at Doncaster School for the Deaf.

Jim McHugh, came to Doncaster with the plan of working at the Deaf Trust for a couple of years and then going back to the NHS, but 15 years later he is still supporting pupils, students and Deaf staff every day.

Jim said: “I honestly don’t know where the years have gone. I started at the Trust in October 2004 and here we are 15 years later and I really cannot imagine doing anything else.

“Working onsite at a school and college for the Deaf is so rewarding. Not many specialist schools have their own onsite audiologist.

“I get to meet pupils when they join us and check their hearing loss and the overall hygiene of the ear so that I can help to make sure they have the best possible equipment or support to help them throughout their school day.

“I do daily equipment checks daily for the pupils with hearing aids and have a very good relationship with Doncaster NHS which enables me to manage the children’s earmolds onsite.

The Deaf Trust audiology area is set up like a satellite clinic for Deaf children and Jim makes sure that the pupils have the right hearing aids and can sort out hearing aid loans or replacements when necessary.

Each child at the school gets an annual review of their hearing loss so that any changes can be picked up and addressed.

“I am able to arrange and take the pupils to hospital appointments which can be difficult for parents to sort. It is all about helping each individual child in the best way for them,” added Jim.

Jim left Glasgow, aged 18 and joined the army, he has lived in Yorkshire for many years now with his wife and children Molly, aged 14 and Harry aged 9.

“The first question I asked at the interview was can I learn to sign, because I knew how important it was in a clinical setting to be able to communicate with people using their language.”

As well as providing the service for school pupils, Jim also works with the students at Communication Specialist College Doncaster.

“New college students will come and see me depending on their hearing loss and I will run tests to see how I can help them.

“There is a good hearing aid culture at Doncaster Deaf Trust. Normally students will say no when asked if they want to try hearing aids. Generally, two months later they will come back and give them a go as they have seen other students using them.

 “This can have a really positive impact on their learning and on their interaction with others.

“I teach the students how to do their own maintenance and how to look after their hearing aids.  I make sure that I teach them the terminology as well, so that they can text the hospital with the right information,” added Jim 

Jim makes sure that he has a spare set of earmolds for each pupil and has aids on charge permanently so that they are ready for use.

“I have a great rapport with the pupils. I’m not a teacher, I’m not here to teach them their lessons, I’m there to help them understand their hearing loss and help them to find the best approach for them.

“Two pupils may have the same hearing loss but their likes and dislikes can be very different. My job is to get them to trust me so that I can help them to work out what works for them,” Jim concluded

Doncaster Deaf Trust manages Little Learners Day Nursery, Doncaster School for the Deaf, Communication Specialist College Doncaster, Specialist Employability Services and a Care Home.

Alexis Johnson, our executive principal said: “We are the only provider in Yorkshire that has and audiologist integrated into the curriculum. Jim is a real part and parcel of the fabric of our organisation.

“Our pupils, students and their parents feel so well supported that we have Jim on site four days a week providing such as specialist one to one service.

“We are thrilled that he has been with us for 15 years and know that he has made a real difference to hundreds of young people and their families during that time.”