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My deafness didn't stop me becoming a roller derby champion

Photo: Bronwen finds her helmet is able to protect her hearing aids when she plays.

Bronwen was just 11 years old when she caught her first glimpse of roller derby.

“Me and my family saw a game on the seafront,” she remembers. “My older sister took an interest and joined the local club. After a year of her convincing me, I finally joined the team!”

Over the years, she fell in love with the fast-paced nature of roller derby – a contact sport played on roller skates.

For Bronwen (18), who has a severe hearing loss and uses hearing aids, there were some difficulties in the beginning. Identifying the different pitch of the referee’s whistle and hearing her teammates was a challenge, but with time and practice, she was able to focus in on specific sounds.

“As I progressed, I got used to the type of sounds I’d need to hear,” Bronwen explains. “I’ve trained the part of my brain that processes sound in a noisy environment.

“When I play, I still wear my hearing aids and my helmet tends to provide just enough protection so that they don’t get damaged as it sits on top of them.”

Bronwen qualified to be part of Team GB for the 2020 Junior World Cup in Canada. Unfortunately, the competition was cancelled due to the pandemic, but Bronwen is still proud to have made the national team.

She now trains three days a week and has become a coach. Later this year, Bronwen plans to move to London, where she hopes to join one of the highest-ranked teams in the UK.

But while she has achieved a lot in roller derby, for Bronwen the most important thing is the community she has found. “Local teams know each other and play against each other a lot. This creates a close community that’s very welcoming,” she says. “To other people who are thinking of joining a roller derby team, I’d say don’t be afraid to give it a go! We don’t know until we try.”

Spring 2023 Families magazine