Anthony Gorringe has spent the majority of his life deaf after a serious bout of meningitis caused him to lose his hearing at just two years old.
But instead of seeing it as a handicap, Mr Gorringe has thoroughly enjoyed his life and says he wouldn’t change it for anything.
“It doesn’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything and it’s actually a privilege to be a part of the deaf community,” Mr Gorringe said, with the help of his interpreter wife Kay.
“Some of my closest mates are deaf and life is always what you make of it.”
The NSW Deaf Society is preparing to celebrate 100 years of operation in Australia this October.
And Mr Gorringe is a glowing ambassador for the NSW Deaf Society, having been a member for more than 20 years. His outstanding work gained him life membership in the society back in 2006.
“The importance of the Deaf Society for me is it feels like I’m part of a big community and we treat each other like family,” Mr Gorringe said.
Mrs Gorringe said that Anthony was extremely independent and despite his difficulties, was an ideal Orange citizen who gave a lot back to the community.
“He’s played lawn bowls for more than 47 years, played rugby league at Dunedoo, drove in car rallies, judged swimming and coached junior rugby league just to name a few things,” she said.
“Last year he was also treasurer of the Orange Art Society and he did such a great job they’ve invited him back again this year.”
Sign language has become a huge part of the Gorringe family and Ashlee Hepworth, who’s engaged to Anthony’s grandson Paul, is the latest to learn sign language.
While daunting to start with, she believes it’s enriched her life so much she plans on studying a diploma of interpreting.
“It was hard to learn at first and you’re very concious because you don’t want to use the incorrect signs,” she said.
“But once I built up the confidence I quite enjoyed it and even thought I’ve only started doing it since last November I’ve picked up a lot of things along the way.”
To celebrate 100 years of the Deaf Society in NSW, they’re hoping to attract 100 more people like Ashlee who’d like to complete an accredited Auslan (Australian sign language) course.
“In the same way that people enrich their lives by signing up to foreign language courses, we are encouraging people to explore the significant benefits of sign language,” chief executive officer of the Deaf Society of NSW Sharon Everson said.
“This initiative aims to bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf community by creating a better sense of understanding and awareness of the use of sign language.”
The Deaf Society of NSW offers both online and face-to-face accredited Auslan courses. Community courses which take seven weeks are available to people who are interested in learning the basics of Auslan
The Deaf Society of NSW also offers nationally-accredited Auslan certificate and diploma courses.
For more information or to register for a course, visit http://www.deafsocietynsw.org.au/courses/page/our_auslan_courses