It is with extreme sadness the Bunbury Better Hearing Group mourns the recent passing of one of its founding members, Pat Doreen Kitchen.
Until just before Christmas, she was regularly present at its weekly lip-reading lessons and had become an extremely capable lip-reader.
Pat was a very active member of the group, being one of six founding Members, the others being the late Connie Clarke, Bon Deering, Joan Knight, Elizabeth Cruden, and Daphne Lofthouse in January 1980.
Suffering significant hearing loss, they found that hearing-aids were not able to help them fully participate in social life and play an active role in the community.
Having attended a talk by the late Ursula Holry from Better Hearing Australia, they realised the potential for hearing impaired people in gaining a high level of competence in lip-reading in overcoming the issue.
Connie, in the meantime, had become a qualified Teacher. They quickly experienced the benefits of lip-reading skills and actively set out to encourage other deaf people to join the group.
That vision has resulted in the group teaching many hearing impaired people from Harvey in the north, to Busselton in the south.
Included in these lessons was advice on how to handle hearing loss and maximise residual hearing.
Pat became the inaugural president and held the position until 2001.
As a mentor to new members who joined the group, she assisted them in settling in and feeling comfortable in the group.
She arranged social outings to concerts, dinners at restaurants, stage shows, tours to places of interest, and for the group to visit member’s homes as a social outing.
By example, she encouraged members to participate fully in community life and social events.
Pat kept up to date with the latest technology in assistive hearing and listening devices.
Assistive hearing devices covered ongoing improvements in hearing aids, while listening devices covered such things as induction hearing loops.
Pat was closely involved in having hearing aid couplers (a device fitted to telephones) placed in two public telephones at the Bunbury Post Office.
She helped organise an audio induction loop in the Wesley Centre to enable members with a telecoil to hear better during lip-reading lessons.
Pat was instrumental in having a portable induction loop made available at the Bunbury Repertory Club, so members could enjoy the performances.
She was also involved in having one installed at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre.
Pat engaged in the role of publicity officer, preparing a regular newsletter in the local papers setting out the current activities of the group.
The newsletters provided new information that could assist the hearing impaired members of the community that did not attend lessons.
Yet this contribution was small in context when compared with her other charitable and voluntary activities in the Bunbury region, helping others less fortunate than herself.
Pat was a tower of strength and leadership within the group and will be sadly missed, not only by her family and friends but also all current and passed members of the Bunbury Better Hearing Group.