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The Dealer’s Touch: Meet a Deaf Antiques Dealer

deaf antiques dealer
Deaf antique dealer Lesley Kiddell-Spencer lost her hearing to meningitis when she was just seven years of age. As a positive person, she says she chose to focus on the best things in life.

“I won’t say that life was easy, because it wasn’t, as we all know,” she says.

At first, she worked at a number of jobs, none of which inspired her. At the age of 40, she found herself the CEO of a company providing services to people with hearing loss and their families in her area.

“I found myself looking down from an ivory tower in an unsatisfactory job tied by bureaucrats, so I handed in my notice and went into a panic after I realized what I had done,” she says.

Finding Inspiration

However, it didn’t take too long before Kiddell-Spencer knew that she had a pastime which for her was a real passion.

“So enter Lesley the antique dealer, oh, best thing I ever did,” she says. “I get to give deaf awareness and communication tactics to everyone I meet.”

Read more: Never Mind: How to Handle Communication in Groups

Deaf Antiques Dealer

Antiques had always been in the background and was something to make the grind of work worthwhile. Now Kiddell-Spencer, who is from East Northamptonshire, England,  has turned a hobby into a business.

“To date my best buy is a tiny Chinese bowl I bought for £40 and sold for almost £4,000,” she says. “It’s not been without difficulties, but I have met some of the most wonderful and weird people, even celebrities. I have had my stall almost stripped bare by a coach full of Japanese tourists, had my finger broken by a runaway marquee, had items stolen, things smashed, and slept through all weathers in a trusted old VW camper van.”

“To date my best buy is a tiny Chinese bowl I bought for £40 and sold for almost £4,000.”

With customers coming from all over the world, global shipping proves another challenge, but Kiddell-Spencer is ever ready to rise to the challenges.

“Going to auctions is a mixed bucket of emotions,” she says. “You go through love, hate, horror, disappointment and shock during the space of a day.”

Is it rewarding? Kiddell-Spencer would certainly say so.

“Being a brief custodian of some of the most wonderful treasures, ranging from ancient Egyptian figures to solid gold diamond Edwardian pendants which would have looked wonderful on beautiful ball gowns [is rewarding],” she says.

Pursuing Her Dream

Antique dealing is a difficult occupation for anyone, but for someone who is hard of hearing, it can be more than challenging. As Kiddell-Spencer herself says.

“A career like this is hard for anyone with a hearing loss to visualize when the most important thing is communication, which can make or break you to the tune of thousands. But it can be done if you commit yourself to succeeding; the same applies to anything you do in life.”

“A career like this is hard for anyone with a hearing loss to visualize when the most important thing is communication…”

At the age of 59, Kiddell-Spencer has glaucoma and rheumatoid arthritis to contend with on top of her hearing loss. With the help and financial assistance from the UK’s Action To Work, however, she is able to pursue her dream.

“As long as I am able to obtain the support I need nothing is going to stop me,” she says.

You can learn more about Kiddell-Spencer’s business on her Instagram!

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Author Details
Phonak hEARo, Phil is an author, journalist and therapist, living on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast with his wife Raine and their three children. Phil was diagnosed in 2016 with mild to moderate Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and tinnitus. He uses Phonak silver digital hearing aids with automatic volume controls.
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Phonak hEARo, Phil is an author, journalist and therapist, living on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast with his wife Raine and their three children. Phil was diagnosed in 2016 with mild to moderate Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and tinnitus. He uses Phonak silver digital hearing aids with automatic volume controls.
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