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Joanne Milne Takes Beauty Spot Tour Before She Loses Her Sight

September 28, 2015

Last year Joanne Milne became an internet sensation when footage of her hearing for the first time was posted on YouTube. But, cruelly, she is now slowly losing her sight because of a rare disorder. To build up a visual memory bank, she has taken a tour of three beauty spots in her native North East that were suggested to her by BBC radio listeners.

“It’s like a tunnel which is unfortunately closing in and in,” says Joanne Milne of the gradual loss of her eyesight.

More than a year ago Ms Milne, who was born deaf, was fitted with cochlear implants and heard for the first time at the age of 39 – footage of her tears of emotion on hearing a nurse read to her went viral.

But she has known for some time now that she is going blind due to a disorder called Usher syndrome, although she is totally accepting of her fate.

Determined to be positive, she is trying to build up a bank of memories for when the inevitable happens.

Ms Milne, from Gateshead, spends hours looking at old photos of her family, trying to “imprint” them on her memory.

“I can see these photographs perfectly, the colours and the faces, but I can’t see my fingers wiggling in front of my face,” she says matter-of-factly, without a trace of self-pity.

“This picture is of me in a bonnet as a baby with my father and elder sister, and when I close my eyes I can see this picture.

“It does seem very, very cruel but the positive thing I can say about that is because of the lack of my senses, it makes me appreciate life and admire a view for that little bit longer.

“It’s probably the worst thing imaginable for someone who is deaf to be told they are going blind.

“I still have some sight and while I have that sight I’m going to grab every opportunity and live every day like my last.”

Recently BBC Newcastle asked listeners to suggest places for the 40-year-old to visit to help her mission to build up a memory bank of images.

Hundreds responded and Ms Milne, who says she feels “overwhelmed” that so many people care, chose three places she had never been to.

First stop was to see radio listener Jane Lancaster, who nominated Low Newton beach, Newton Point, on the Northumberland coast.

Asking Ms Milne to close her eyes, she led her to her favourite coast in all its rocky splendour with views of 14th Century Dunstanburgh Castle.

Ms Lancaster said: “Every time I look at this view my heart skips a beat. The castle leads your eye in and the rocks lead it out to the sea.”

Ms Milne describes the view as “breathtaking”, adding: “I felt like a child on Christmas morning, not being allowed to open my eyes for a moment.”

Next on the list was High Force waterfall in the heart of the Durham Dales.

Ms Milne sits on rocks listening to the torrent of water. She says: “I feel very emotional – it’s not just about what I can see but what I can hear, too. It’s noisy but it’s peaceful, if you know what I mean.”

Despite living only an hour’s drive away, Ms Milne had never been to the Lake District, which attracts millions of visitors a year.

For her final destination she chose a boat trip on the tranquil waters of Ullswater, the region’s second largest lake.

Ms Milne takes several minutes to find the words to describe the view.

“It doesn’t matter which direction I look, every view is beautiful and the skyline is so dramatic. I’ve now got a picture of the Lake District in my memory and the sound of this boat and it’s absolutely magical.

“I will never forget this for the rest of my life. It has also been very touching because it’s about places the general public has nominated for me.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. mili68 permalink
    September 28, 2015 11:54 am

    Reblogged this on disabledsingleparent.

  2. mili68 permalink
    September 28, 2015 11:54 am

    Tweeted @melissacade68

  3. September 28, 2015 12:33 pm

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions.

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