Our impact Changing lives Charlie's story My name is Charlie and I’m 13 years old. I play the violin, piano, drums and guitar and I also play tennis, football and table tennis. I come from a musical family and I got my first violin when I was 3. My Gran and my Dad teach me the violin and my Nana teaches me the piano. My mum just nags me to practise! I am currently practising for my Grade 5 piano and Grade 5 violin exam and about to take my first drum exam. Music has given me lots of opportunities in life. I have taken part in a music festival in Poland and I play the organ at my local church. When my sister and I put on a concert to raise money for a boy I know in Africa called Witness, we raised enough money to buy chickens, goats, cutlery, plates and clothes. People are sometimes surprised that I do so much music as I’m profoundly deaf. When I was 2, the doctors told my mum and dad that I wouldn’t even hear if a plane took off next to me. I got Cochlear Implants a year later. Around the same time, I started going to AVUK every fortnight. Mum says that I didn’t really have any speech before then and that I used to hide under the table rather than have to try and learn new words. But at AVUK they teach you how to make the most of your hearing and always encourage you to believe you can achieve more. That really helped when I decided to do the 11+ test for our local Grammar School. Luckily I like challenges and I set myself the task of learning 200 new words to help with the verbal reasoning paper. The whole family got involved and would throw balls at me and get me to throw them back with a synonym or antonym - boy that was a fun summer! But it worked and I got in. I’m now in my second year and I think we’re all surprised (and maybe a bit proud) that I always get full marks in my spelling tests and Latin vocabulary tests. This attitude has helped in everything I do. I am in the Junior GB deaf tennis squad and came runner up in the Junior National Championships in both the singles and doubles last month. I also play in my local table tennis league and won the district table tennis championships with my school team. I’m on the FA disability talent pathway for my football and last year I represented my school in football, tennis, table tennis, cross country and even the discus! Earlier this year, I performed with my family on Britain’s Got Talent and it was a real buzz to play on stage at the London Palladium in front of 2000 people. Fortunately, Simon Cowell and the other judges liked it and even gave us a standing ovation. AVUK taught me never to give up and I hope that by performing here today with my family you can see that I never have.