Tireless champion for deaf honoured

23:58, Apr 02 2014

A Brightwater farmer with the "heart of a lion" has been chosen as this year's Hearing Hero.

John Harwood, who is on the Hearing Association of Nelson Committee, is a former national president of the association, and deputy chair of the National Foundation for the Deaf council.

The prestigious award is decided by the NFD's board and is in recognition of his strong advocacy for the hearing sector.

Harwood said he accepted the NFD award as a recognition of the work he had done, but pointed out that others were also involved.

"It's through teamwork that we've been able to achieve a lot of the things we've done."

He estimated he had given five years to the deaf community through the time he took to make trips to Auckland, submissions to ACC and other sacrifices. Harwood felt one of his greatest accomplishments was to secure 250 hours of captioning on Sky TV's national programming, saying New Zealand lagged behind the United Kingdom and the United States in this area.

Chair of the National Foundation for the Deaf council, Professor Peter Thorne, said beneath Harwood's laconic exterior, he had the heart of a lion and the negotiating skills of an international diplomat.

"John Harwood is a tireless champion for the rights of people with hearing disability. He is a trusted and wise leader within the hard of hearing community. He has a severe hearing loss himself, from years of being in the army and working as a shearer, and so he is perfectly placed to know the frustrations and problems facing those living with hearing loss."

The annual Hearing Hero award was established to formally recognise those who have made an outstanding contribution to the deaf and hearing impaired sector.