Sampling a new sound, inspirational Joanne Milne was among friends as she went to her first concert since the successful operation to change her life.
Along with good friend of 15 years Jo Knight, the 39-year-old was among the throng at Soul Toon All Dayer in Gateshead at the weekend.
It was the first time Joanne’s been to a live concert since having her double cochlear implants switched on allowing her to hear for the first time. Born deaf, the procedure became even more vital to the mentor for the charity Sense after she started to lose her vision to Usher Syndrome when she was 29.
As news of her ability to hear continues to travel, more and more people on Tyneside and further field have been alerted to the little-known condition.
Wanting to help in some way, North East fans of Northern Soul came forward with song suggestions for Joanne with the resulting CD now being used to raise money for Sense.
Joanne, from Gateshead, who has been approached to write a book about her life, said: “I was so overwhelmed at the kindness of strangers. These were people who say music is a big part of their lives and to realise how we take our senses for granted.”
She was invited to the 2pm till 2am event at Gateshead’s former Federation Brewery by her friend and former work colleague Jo Knight from North Shields.
Jo said: “I have been friends with Joanne for 15 years and it was a fantastic event and atmosphere and wonderful that she was able to hear my voice for the first time. I’ve always loved Northern Soul and Joanne has been to events before and felt the vibrations. I’d asked fans to suggest songs Joanne could listen to and there has been so much interest in it we have decided to use it raise money for Sense.
“On the night Northern Soul DJ Ginger Taylor handed Joanne a signed book and CD, he had heard about her story in the news and was overjoyed she was there.”
Seeing how Joanne’s story has alerted people to Usher syndrome, her friends are rallying round to keep the condition in people’s minds.
Jo added: “There is a song called “It Will Never Be Over For Me’ and it won’t, we will continue to raise money for Usher and Sense and are taking part in the Great North Dog Walk in June.”
To find out more about Joanne’s story and how to donate visit www.sense.org.uk/content/jo-milne-and-usher