A deaf couple who have been married for 12 years have just heard each other for the first time.
Neil and Helen Robinson, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, were both deaf from birth and have spent their lives communicating with sign language.
But now, thanks to cochlear implants, they have been able to say ‘I love you’ for the first time.
They are thought to be the first couple in the UK to have the implants fitted and are amazed they can finally hear each other.
Neil, 50, said: “It felt incredible, in a happy way. It felt really emotional.
“This morning when I jumped out of my car to attend the morning prayer, I suddenly heard birds arguing with each other.
“It was so loud so I was quite impressed at how much more I could hear now.”
Helen, 54, pushed for the couple to have the implants and they underwent surgery at the Nuffield Health Wessex Hospital in Chandler’s Ford in November.
The implants sit on the inside and outside of the skull and are connected with a magnet.
The inner part has 16 electrodes which receive information sent by the processor on the outside of the skull.
The electrodes then send pulses of electricity to the brain which then deciphers them into sounds.
Surgeons had to carefully navigate past nerves to successfully fit the implants, and the couple - who have a son - will continue to travel to Southampton for follow-up appointments.
Dr Mary Grasmeder, from the University of Southampton Audiology Implant Service (USAIS), said: “People who have been deaf for some time don’t have the same expectation of sound will be like compared with someone who has just lost their hearing.
“Because their auditory system is not so well developed it will be more difficult for them to process the information and to understand it.”
Professor Carl Verschuur, director of USAIS, added: “We are a clinical unit grew of the institute of sound vibration research and because of that we are actually in the University which is unusual.
“We are very engaged in research and teaching as well as our staff being involved in the training of the next generation of audiologists.
“It means we also have the opportunity to interact with our patients who may want to help with our research by sharing their experiences.”