As a toddler in Scotland after the war, Neville’s hereditary deafness was quantified as total in the left ear and about 70% in the right ear. With hearing aids, years of speech therapy and continuous support from family, teachers and classmates, he progressed well at normal schools. In mid-teens there was a sudden loss of residual hearing along with tinnitus. Neville had to rely on lip-reading through the rest of school and at Strathclyde University. He undertook extensive library work to compensate for what he missed aurally, ending up with B. Sc in Chemistry followed by Ph. D in the solid state physics area, in both cases with the university medal and prize for top graduate. A teaching fellowship at the University of Nottingham followed, including research on electrical processes in biological materials.
Neville came to Australia in 1974 to join the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). He progressed to the senior research levels through the different fields of textiles, environment, coal and minerals that reflected changing government R&D needs. He then moved into management of R&D and technology. He became strategy and business development manager for the Division of Energy Technology and pulled together the Flagship Program “Energy Transformed” to address efficiency and greenhouse issues in the electricity generation, transport and energy end-user sectors. Neville was fortunate that facsimile machines, followed by mobile phone texting and emails, and then personal assistants helped him cope with the increasing communication requirements. He took early retirement in 2002 because of political and relocation issues, not deafness-related.
After “retirement” Neville recalled visiting Prof Graeme Clark in 1983 and being advised he “heard” extremely well and it would be better to come back in 15-20 years when the cochlear implant was hopefully much better developed. After bringing himself up to date, including attending CICADA functions and talking to many implant recipients, and with the support of Judy and the children and grandchildren, Neville proceeded with the then newest cochlear implant (Freedom) in 2005 through SCIC and Prof Bill Gibson.
What a noisy world! But after 6 months he was achieving over 90% in sentence recognition tests in quiet without lip-reading, well above expectations for someone totally deaf for over 40 years. While he still has difficulties in noise and with the phone, the implant has been a great success, both socially and in work for CICADA. Neville has been a committee member since 2007. He became editor of the national newsletter (6 pages and 2000 circulation) and helped develop this into the 28 page glossy CICADA magazine with 20,000 circulation, filling a huge gap for the hearing-impaired and professionals in the hearing sector. The magazine was handed over in 2012 to the Tangello Group to further develop and expand as Hearing HQ magazine; Neville is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board. He subsequently helped with the revamp of the CICADA members newsletter Buzz.
Neville’s technological management background in identifying unmet needs, along with his science communication experience, led him to attempt this CICADA Guide to Hearing Loss and Hearing Solutions. He was fortunate that Pat Mitchell had the expertise and willingness to help make it a reality! Having also helped establish the CICADA website, which will develop much further with Pat as webweaver, Neville welcomes the launch of this CICADA Guide on the CICADA website.