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World War II RAF veteran receives free, state-of-the-art hearing aids

Contributed by James Pocock

04/06/2024 00:00:00 • 4 min read

One hundred year-old Brian Latham, from Llandudno, joined the RAF in 1942, aged 18, becoming part of the Glider Pilot Regiment and fighting in World War II.

Transporting the Queen’s luggage

In 1952, shortly after the death of King George VI, the Glider Pilot Regiment were given the very important task of transporting the luggage belonging to the young Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Phillip, along with all the staff who had accompanied them on their trip to Kenya. The new Queen had just learnt of the sad passing of her father, making her heir to the throne at the age of just 25.

The 3000+ mile trip from Kenya to London took over 20 hours in those days, with many fuel stops. Mr Latham remembers the pilot dropping down to 500ft as they flew over the African plains and seeing a pink sea of flamingos and many other game – saying it was like being on a private safari.

They landed back in London, and went for a nice meal before travelling back to their base in Topcliffe, Yorkshire. Mr Latham remembers receiving a thank-you letter from Queen Elizabeth II, which he thought was a lovely gesture.

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Brian Latham (centre) is looked after by the Llandudno Hidden Hearing team: Dawn Wood (left) and audiologist Harvey Shaw (right).

Aircraft noise and hearing loss

After being around noisy aircraft for such a significant part of his life, Mr Latham has ‘Shackleton ear’ – noise-induced hearing loss named after the Avro Shackleton which was a patrol aircraft used by the Royal Air Force.

Mr Latham receives a war pension as a result of the damage caused to his hearing. Although he wore standard hearing aids from the NHS for many years, he just couldn’t get on with them.

Mr Latham says that looking after your ears and hearing health is essential; you can miss out on so much and people often think you are not listening to them or ignoring them.

After being booked in for a free hearing test at Hidden Hearing’s Llandudno hearing centre, Mr Latham was absolutely delighted to be awarded Oticon Real hearing aids, and had them fitted recently. Brian can't wait to join in the D-Day celebrations on the 6th June knowing he won't miss a thing this year. 

Finally, when asked what his secret is to living a long and healthy life, Mr Latham said he remembers his father telling him not to smoke, and he has never once picked up a cigarette in his life. He also believes keeping fit during his time in the RAF has helped him live a long and rewarding life.

Image of a spitfire plane

Give Back Programme

We are changing lives by providing a free, top-of-the-range pair of private hearing aids to people in the UK who may not be able to afford them, just like Mr Latham.

Give back programme

Brian Latham is awarded a pair of free, top-of-the-range hearing aids from audiologist Harvey Shaw as part of Hidden Hearing’s Give Back Programme.

It’s simple. For every 1,000 tests we do, we give back a free pair of hearing aids. The test doesn’t need to be for you either, just nominate a friend or family member who you think will benefit from having their hearing checked.

Maybe a loved one or someone you know struggles to keep up with conversations, avoids talking on the phone, seems distant in noisy environments or has the TV too loud, which are all signs of hearing loss.

World Hearing Day

You can book a hearing test for yourself or someone you care about (make sure you have their permission), and have the opportunity to be nominated for the Give Back Programme which changes lives for the better. Call 0800 0372 080 now to find out more.