NEVER STOP SURFING
Surfer encouraging others with hearing impairments
THERE is no place Kathryn Hughes is happier than on a wave.
“When I’m out there I can shut off from everything and it’s the most relaxing thing being in my own world,” she said.
“It gives me complete freedom, it’s something I do every day, it’s what I love doing and I get to go to new places and meet new people.”
But there is more to the laid back 26-year-old than just surfing.
Kathryn was born with a hearing impairment and said growing up she had to overcome many struggles.
“My left hearing doesn’t work at all and in my right I have low percentage but with a hearing aid in a higher percentage,” she said.
“When I was younger I started going to Australian Hearing at Cotton Tree and they were my speech therapy and my hearing therapy, they helped me through from day one when I was little to now at 26.”
Ever determined, Kathryn hasn’t let any challenges stop her from doing what she loves and is now a regular competitor on the World Surf League Women’s Longboard Tour.
“I’ve recently been to America and Taiwan to compete and placed 13th and 7th at WSL longboard
comps,” she said.
“When I’m out surfing or at competitions it kind of comes as a shock to people that I’m deaf because I speak really well and they can’t see my hearing aid.
“They also think my balance would be thrown off by my hearing and I’d never even thought of that because it’s how it’s always been for me so I’ve just learnt in my own way.”
This Saturday is World Hearing Day, the culmination of Hearing Awareness Week, and Kathryn hopes any young people going through similar experiences will be inspired by her.
“I’ve had so many people say to me it’s a gift cause I can inspire other kids to push forward instead of holding back which is the best way to look at it,” she said.
“In the beginning I never went out of my way to inspire people but it’s just happened as a result of having my hearing issues and just the way I live life.
“Everyone has different difficulties in their journey and I know sometimes I have had moments but you’ve just got to realise that it’s what you’ve got.
“I’ve never let being deaf stop me from doing things I love and I really hope other people can look to people like me and realise they can do great things as well.”
❝many I’ve had so people say to me it’s a gift ’cause I can inspire other kids to push forward instead of holding back... — Kathryn Hughes
INSPIRATION: Kathryn Hughes has never let having a hearing impairment stop her from chasing her dreams of being a professional surfer.