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‘Amy, don’t worry – Everything works out in the end’

SkillSETs Amy shares her story this Deaf Awareness Week!!


My parents always said to me, "Amy, don't worry - Everything works out in the end"












 

My name is Amy Stewart and in May 2002 I was born profoundly deaf. I started wearing hearing aids at a very young age, but these had no affect at all. Eventually after trying the strongest ones available, it was decided that Cochlear Implants would be the way to go. So, at the age of three I had my first Cochlear implant fitted. This was the first time since I was born that I was able to hear any sounds at all. I was later fitted with a second implant when I was nine. 

It was decided that mainstream school would be too difficult for me. Although my implants did help me, it would still be too difficult for me to cope, and I would have needed a classroom assistant with me throughout my school years. My parents decided that we would move from our home in Lisburn to Belfast so that we could be close to Cregagh Primary school which had a unit for the deaf. It was here that I learned to use British Sign Language for the first time. After leaving primary school I then moved on to Jordanstown School for the deaf. Here I spent eight wonderful years where I made so many good friends who I am still close friends with to this day.  

 

While attending Jordanstown School a new principle came to the school called Dr Scully. Dr Scully was such a great inspiration for me, and it was her that pushed me hard to get the qualifications I needed to move onto Belfast Met. 

 

At Belfast Met I received a qualification in animal care level 2. I was so pleased to have been accepted into this course as my dream job was always to work with animals.  

After finishing my education, I was struggling to find an opportunity to move forward with my career in animal care. After a few months of searching, I decided to go back down the educational route. I decided to take on a course in dog grooming. The course wasn’t cheap but after doing some research I discovered that I was able to get a grant towards it that really helped. 

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the course because of my hearing. I thought I might struggle to take in all the information that would be needed to become a dog groomer. It was at this point I decided to seek some advice. I had heard of AdaptNI but I had never been in contact with them before. I decided to give them a call to see if I could get some advice on whether I should start the course. I was so glad I had made the call. Not only did they give me advice and encouragement, but they also managed to find me an interpreter for my first day at the course. This proved to be a real help for me on my first day as there was a lot of information to take in. 

The course was an intense 2month course with a different dog each day to groom. The class had never any more than two students at a time, so I found it easy to relax and take in all the information. The course was in Bangor which is where my dad works so it worked out well. He would drop me off at the class in the morning and I would get the train home. 

I qualified with an ‘OCN NI Level 3 Diploma in Commercial Dog Grooming, Animal Welfare and Salon Management’. As well as receiving my new qualification, I felt my confidence had grown as well. I had worried so much about taking on this course, but I now realised I could do anything that I wanted to do. 

Now that I was qualified, I had a choice to make. I could find a dog groomer to work for, or I could start up my own dog grooming business. After persuading my dad to give up his garage I decided to go for the latter. 

With the information that I had learned at the course I was able to purchase the right equipment to kit out the garage. Within six weeks I was all set. 

With the new dog grooming business set up I was panicking slightly on what to do next. The thought of that first dog arriving and I would be on my own with no teacher beside me. I had never groomed a dog before that wasn’t in the classroom. This was for real now. I needed work experience in another groomers. Even if it was just for a couple of weeks to get experience in a live salon. 

I decided to contact AdaptNI again as they had helped me so much before. I was so glad I did as they were able to provide me with dog groomers in the Carryduff area that may be willing to give me some work experience. Within a week I was started in a local groomer. 

After one month of work experience, I felt I was now ready to go it alone. After all I had everything set up and ready to go. My problem was I had no customers. 

A few weeks had past, and I was a bit down as I wasn’t sure what way to turn in respect to getting customers. I wasn’t sure if I should post out leaflets or even try advertising. It was about 2 days later that everything took a dramatic turn. 

My Granny had phoned me on the Wednesday morning to ask if I wanted to go to The Grand Opera House with them as they had a spare ticket for the show ‘Mouse Trap’. My Mum persuaded me to say yes as she said it might cheer me up a bit. Before I was picked up for the show my dad made a suggestion. He said ‘Amy, why don’t we put a message on the Carryduff Community Facebook page about your dog grooming business. Sure, what harm would it do’. I agreed. We put a post explaining that I had started up a new grooming business in the area and if anyone would be interested to contact me. We also mentioned that I was deaf, and that texting would be the best way to make an enquiry. We left it at that. 

My Grandparents soon picked me up and we headed of to the show. The show was great but about 30 minutes after it started my phone vibrated in my pocket. I discreetly took it out and checked to see what it was. I was in shock. Someone had responded to my Facebook post and wanted to book their dog in for a groom. I quickly sent my mum and dad a message as I was so excited. Another text came through a few minutes later followed by another one. In fact, my phone never stopped throughout the entire show. 

After arriving home, I had the job of responding to every text that I had received throughout the night. It didn’t end there. The next day more enquiries kept coming in. I could not believe the response I received. 

Within two days I had gone from having a dog grooming business with no customers to being fully booked up. 


I am now getting repeat customers coming back and I am enjoying my new career as a dog groomer. I even have my own website now called www.barkingsalon.com

My parents were right. Everything does work out in the end. 




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