Newsround presenter Ricky Boleto ran the London Marathon for the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) last Sunday, as part of a team raising over £100,000 for deaf children. He’d barely recovered from clocking up a time of 4 hours, 45 minutes (sorry, Ricky!) when Limping Chicken asked him these questions about his life, deafness and running.
Tell us about your experience of hearing loss and glue ear?
I’ve had an ongoing battle with my ears since I was a toddler. My parents noticed the way I would constantly rub both of my ears with a dummy. Something wasn’t right.
After a few bouts of glue ear, I was referred to a hearing specialist. I can still remember my first hearing test, listening to all those odd beeps and tones through a pair of oversized headphones!
Eventually I underwent surgery to have a set of grommets fitted. Over the years the damage was done and the hearing in my left ear progressively got worse.
How did you cope with deafness in higher education?
By the time I turned 18, my hearing had already deteriorated. I now have 80 per cent hearing loss in my left ear and a slight loss in my right.
I’m very conscious and aware that I’m constantly missing out on what people are saying. I can’t hear whispers, and background noise tends to take over everything.
Going out to clubs was an interesting experience. I’d pretend to hear what my mates were saying, or I’d ignore them completely, and at university I got by pretty well. I’d sit at the front of the lecture theatre or I’d get friends to repeat a few things.
I’ve always tried to get on with life as if everything was fine. But of course, there are days when that’s a real struggle.
What was your path into television?
Since I was knee high I wanted to work in TV.
I’d force my parents to buy a couple of newspapers everyday on the way to school. I enjoyed watching Newsround and hearing about all the different stories going on in the world. I guess you could say I’m a bit nosey! I like to be the first person to know everything and then share that with everyone else.
I studied journalism at Southampton Solent University before getting a few different work placements at BBC News and Sky News. After I graduated, I ended up working with Sky for three years before joining the presenting team at Newsround.
How do you hear in the studio?
My left ear is temperamental. There are days when my hearing is worse than others. That’s when it becomes a challenge to present from a busy studio.
With an earpiece in my good ear, it becomes tricky to hear what the floor manger, guest or co-presenter is saying. I think I cope really well. The team are all aware that I sometimes struggle, but they’ve always been very supportive!
How long have you been supporting NDCS?
Since I started working for CBBC really. I get to meet so many wonderful kids every week, some with disabilities and I’m always amazed at how well they cope.
I feel like I can relate to children who are hard of hearing or deaf.
It’s not something you can spot a mile off. I want to show kids that there’s nothing to be afraid of. NDCS support families who, a lot of the time, have nowhere else to turn and I commend all their hard work.
Tell us what the marathon felt like?
The London Marathon has been on my mind for what feels like a lifetime. Like a constant lump in my throat. Words cannot describe how elated I am to have completed the challenge.
I hardly slept the night before as the realisation that I’d only ever run 16 miles began to sink in.
But the big day was well worth it. The crowds kept me going. Seeing my family cheering me on and knowing that I was running for a cause I genuinely feel passionate about really helped.
Who knows…I might even do it again!
To find out more about Ricky’s training and to sponsor him go to www.ndcs.org.uk/ricky
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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