Paula Cook of Aston Hearing in Amersham has been awarded the title of European Audiologist of the Year 2019, just weeks after being crowned the United Kingdom Audiologist of the Year. Paula beat finalists from France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland for the coveted title, impressing judges with her dedication to going above and beyond in her patient care.
Paula was nominated by her client Heather Cooper, who now lives in Turkey, having retired there following the death of her husband several years ago.
Eager to help her former client, after a back injury had left her incapacitated and unable to communicate easily with her hearing impaired neighbour Dora, Paula arranged to take her summer holiday in Turkey transporting her audiology equipment more than 2,000 miles/3,200 kilometres and fitting the two retirees with hearing aids from the clinic’s stock, to save on cost.
Describing the moment her new friend was fitted with her hearing aids Heather said: “Her face broke into the biggest smile I have ever seen. Then came the tears and emotions from all of us. We went outside of the apartment and wandered down to the beach. Dora looked astonished – ‘I can hear the sea’ – ‘I feel that I’ve been born again’ she said.”
Now in its twelfth year, the competition is organised by RAYOVAC®, a world-leading hearing aid battery manufacturer*, in partnership with Audio Infos, the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) and the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH).
The winning entry for the Europe-wide award was selected by a panel of judges, made up of professionals from the hearing industry who, from a list of finalists made up of the top audiologist in each participating country, nominated by their clients and their families for their outstanding support, service and approach to care.
In her winning nomination, Paula’s client Heather went on to explain that although Paula’s generosity and kindness was one of the reasons behind her nomination for Audiologist of the Year, it was Paula’s background and reasons for entering the profession that really hit home.
She described Paula’s dedication to helping her own children, who both have the same form of genetic hearing loss, which included a change in career to audiology: “She became involved in every way possible to ensure that they received the best care and technology available. She was such a regular in the audiology department that they offered her a job and that was that – her career in audiology began. Audiology is not a career for Paula, it is a life-long vocation.”
Accepting her award at an Evening of Excellence and networking event at the EUHA Congress and Exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany, Paula said: “I would just like to say, congratulations to every audiologist that has been nominated for this award, all are incredibly worthy and I feel blessed to have been selected.
“It has been such an overwhelming experience, the congratulations and joy from colleagues, clients, family, friends and acquaintances has completely taken me by surprise. The highlight though has been the beaming smiles of my children, Ellen and Michael, who are so proud of what we have achieved throughout our journey- it is beyond words.
“It is a privilege to go to work every day to help people access the world around them and bring them back into the family circle, tears and laughter are shared with many. All at Aston hearing go the extra mile every day and I am lucky to work with such an amazing team.
“Thank you Rayovac for helping us to celebrate our profession – and thank you Heather for sharing your story and nominating me for this award. I hope all of these ‘real-world’ stories that RAYOVAC® have encouraged people to share over the past 12 years inspire future generations of audiologists.”
Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at RAYOVAC®, said: “The Audiologist of the Year is an important event in the RAYOVAC® calendar. We are passionate about recognising the outstanding work being done by hearing professionals across Europe, giving their patients the power to hear more. Together with our sponsors, we’re delighted to be announcing Paula Cook as the European Audiologist of the Year for 2019.
Competition judge, Secretary General for EHIMA, Stefan Zimmer said: “Each year we receive a high number of compelling and heart-warming entries from across Europe. As judges we are looking for the audiologist who really stands out from the crowd in elevating their patient care and approach to an exceptional level. Paula’s efforts in going above and beyond merely expected levels of care in her practice have earned her this award.”