Life has become a whole lot louder – and more independent – for Bernice McAughtrie.

The 67-year-old Cromwell woman has suffered from hearing loss since the age of 14 and has relied on hearing aids since she was 27.

Five years ago the hearing aids began to lose their effect and Ms McAughtrie’s audiologist gave her news they were approaching the stage where they could not help her.

“I started to realise I couldn’t use the phone, my family had to do all that for me, and as a business owner, it felt very isolating,” she said.

“You feel like you live in a world on your own.”

Ms McAughtrie owns her own business, The Linen Collection, and while she was able to keep it going on some levels, she had to scale back other elements such as distribution or attending shows.

“Working in my industry requires talking to people, clients, suppliers, customers.”

While my husband and daughter were wonderful, they have their own lives to lead, so I had to pull back.”

“It got too hard.”

However, since receiving a cochlear implant two years ago, things have changed dramatically and Ms McAughtrie has never looked back.

“It’s changed my life completely – I can hear,” she said.

“I consider it a turning point in my life.

There was a sense of relief when the implant was switched on and she was able to hear again.

“My husband was with me when they switched it on. It was emotional, being able to hear behind me was absolutely amazing,” she said.

Now Ms McAughtrie is adjusting to life in the hearing world and being able to do everyday things.

“It’s quite noisy, and it’s quite distracting, but you just battle through.”

I think [the biggest difference is] being able to communicate with people and the small things – I answer the phone.”

Ms McAughtrie’s daughter Gretchen Nightingale said the implant had given her mother more confidence.

“She has her own voice now.”

It’s actually hard to believe it’s only been two years – Dad’s got to be bit careful [what he says] now.”

Ms McAughtrie’s husband Richard Nightingale agreed.

“We’ve had to learn to talk to each other in the car – we hadn’t been able to do that.”

The whole thing has given Bernice such confidence, it’s fantastic.”