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CAROLS by Candlelight in Horsham was extra special this year for one little girl and her parents.
Emily Vettos, 10, was in the Combined Primary Schools Choir, but what made her carols debut special was that six months ago she was deaf.
Her mother Dee said Emily had lived with hearing difficulties for most of her life but was now loving life and singing proudly after an operation.
“Emily was born almost six weeks premature and the tubes in the ears are one of the last things to develop, so she had a lot of pressure building in her ears,” Mrs Vettos said.
“When she was two we realised she was mumbling a lot and so we took her to the doctor and he referred her to an ear, nose and throat surgeon and he found she was profoundly deaf, that she didn’t have a lot of hearing at all.
“He operated on her and widened the tube in both her ears and for a while we thought she was going really well.
“She was very smart, doing well at school but she was very shy and it wasn’t until we had an appointment a year ago that we found she had had a lot of scarring in her right ear and was not actually improving.
“We found out that she had taught herself to lip read and that was how she was getting by.”
Mrs Vettos said that after a second operation, about six months ago, Emily had a new lease on life.
“We had no idea because she never said anything and she had no idea either,” she said. “It wasn’t until she had the surgery that she realised, she came out and said `oh mum, you sound great’. And she’s really come out since then, she’s still got deafness in her right ear, and she will always have some hearing loss, but she’s coming out of her shell and doing a lot better.”
Singing has now become a big part of Emily’s life.
“She joined the school choir about three years ago and used to stand up the back and was really quiet and shy and then after this surgery, because she could hear the beat and was in tune, she sings with gusto. She’s really loud and she loves it,” Mrs Vettos said.
“She likes everything, she’s into 1980s music and Abba at the moment because of Mamma Mia but she’s always singing,” she said.
“We think we’ll get her singing lessons for the coming year, she really does enjoy it.”
Mrs Vettos said seeing Emily sing at carols had been a defining moment for her and husband Con.
“I was so proud, from a little girl who really had the odds against her and was so shy and withdrawn, to come on stage in front of other people and perform, well it was the proudest thing I have ever seen,” she said.
Emily said she had enjoyed singing at the carols celebration.
“It went really good and I liked doing all the actions. It was cool because there were a lot of people that I knew and it was exciting,” she said.
Emily, who wants to be a singer and a photographer when she grows up, said singing made her feel good.
“When I was little I was really embarrassed because I couldn’t do much and now that I can sing I guess I can do a lot more than I used to be able to, it’s a nice feeling,” she said.

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