May 2018 TV3.ie
Rita Simons played tough, glamorous and straight-talking Roxy Mitchell on BBC One’s EastEnders for 10 years, until her role ended dramatically last year, when she drowned in a swimming pool with her on-screen sister Ronnie. Since then, she’s proved there’s life after Albert Square – she’s set to star in feature film The Krays: Dead Man Walking, which is released later this year, and she’s currently performing in a UK tour of Legally Blonde The Musical. The 41-year-old, who’s married to hairdresser Theo Silverton and has twin daughters, tells about moving on, coping with her daughter Maiya’s hearing problems and how she deals with her own anxiety…
“When we were told that Maiya, at five months old, was deaf. It was shattering and I was in complete denial. Tests revealed she has enlarged vestibular aqueducts – a genetic deformity of the inner ear. “She’s profoundly deaf in her right ear and is partially deaf in her left ear, but a cochlear implant four years ago and hearing aids have changed her life. Before that, she used to have tantrums, because she was so frustrated at not being able to hear properly.
“Today, she has an incredible singing voice, impeccable speech, an ear for accents and her talent even won her a place at drama school. She has her own agent and has auditioned for West End shows. There’s still a worry about safeguarding the hearing in her left ear. Going through puberty could possibly reduce it, but we’ve decided not to dwell on that and just hope for the best. It’s also at risk if she has a knock on the head or hears an extremely loud noise, but Theo and I resolved years ago not to mollycoddle her. “We’d rather she grew up having fun, than grew up with issues because she’d been restricted from being a normal child. There may be things we can do to fix that ear if, God forbid, something happened, but we could never give her back the fun she didn’t have.
“As someone who has to go through every day caring for a child with hearing problems, my advice would be to do all you can to prevent hearing loss, especially at a young age. It can be hard to get the message across to youngsters about the need to protect their ears and be careful about not listening to music at excessive noise levels, but once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.”