Edinburgh dad raising money for the families of deaf children with 5k Loch Tay swim

An Edinburgh dad, who has two profoundly deaf children, is taking on a 5k swim in Loch Tay to fund sign language lessons for families with deaf children.

Personal trainer Mike Webb, 34, is taking up the challenge to raise money for Deaf Action, a Edinburgh-based charity that provides sign language, deaf awareness and lip-reading classes for people with hearing loss, as well as their families and friends.

Mike is dad to Marlie and Brody, who are both deaf. He was inspired by the help he was given when his children were first diagnosed.

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When she was 18 months old, Marlie was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. At the time, Mike was taken aback.

"Marlie was the first deaf person we had in either of our families and quite frankly we had absolutely no idea what we were doing or where to start,” he said.

"It was quite overwhelming, as I started to unpick what her future looked like.

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"It’s hard when you’re told that there’s a definite hurdle you have to come over.”

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Mike, his partner, and his two children, Marlie and Brody.

Keen to communicate with their child, Mike and his partner quickly started sign-language lessons, which were paid for the National Deaf Children Society. However, not every parent is as lucky.

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Mike said: "Most families need to pay to do courses, just for the means to communicate with their child.

“That can be very difficult for some.”

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The father-of-two wanted to help other parents in his situation, so decided to take part in the Go Swim Loch Tay event, which will be held on August 20.

“This swim is an opportunity for me to give something back”, he said.

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He hopes to raise £2500, which would fund a year's worth of sign language lessons for ten families.

Mike wants to help families who have deaf children, but he also believes everyone could benefit from signing with their children.

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“Being able to communicate with your child just using facial expressions and your hands is quite special.”

He found the skill particularly useful when his children were going through ‘the terrible twos’. "You can defuse a situation quite quickly, just using your hands and eye contact”, he said.

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Both of his children now have cochlear implants, however, the family still use sign language on a daily basis.

While his main aim is to raise funds for Deaf Action, he also hopes to increase awareness of sign-language and the benefits it has for all families,

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The open water swim is more than a month away, but the personal trainer has already started training in a local reservoir.

He said: "I like swimming, but I’ve never swam this distance, so it’s quite challenging.”

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“It helps that I’m raising money, so I’ve got a bit of pressure to motivate me!”

His training has also helped him better understand his children and their experience of hearing loss.

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“When you’re in the water, you can’t really hear much, so you can imagine what it would be like,” he said.

You can donate to Mike’s fundraiser for Deaf Action by visiting his JustGiving page.