MORE deaf children in Dorset will receive much-needed speech and language therapy following a two-year battle for extra funding for the vital service.

Among those who will benefit are three-year-old Joe Charles from Wimborne who receives one-to-one help from speech and language therapist Erica Davies.

Joe’s mother Sarah said: “The extra funding is invaluable. Joe will be starting school next year; he gets so frustrated and this funding will help him communicate with others as well as provide extra support to our family.”

Tireless campaigners included charity worker Shirley Sorbie from West Parley whose sons Tom and Jamie are both deaf.

Shirley has been a trustee of Dorset Deaf Children’s Society for 20 years. She said: “Speech and language therapy is critical as it is such a vital part of any deaf child’s development.

“Lack of communication can impact on the whole of a children’s life, not just education, but social needs and self-esteem. Over the years I have listened to parents voicing their increasing concerns.”

On behalf of the DDCS, Shirley compiled a questionnaire for parents to give them a voice and enlisted the support of MPs, NHS Commissioners and children’s services.

Following a two-year campaign, the time allocated for the specialist speech and language therapist for deaf children in Dorset rose from seven hours a week to three days a week and two more therapists were trained to help deaf children.

The Speech and Language Therapy Service submitted a business plan to the PCT commissioners who have now approved £244,000 additional funding for Dorset children with special needs.

Shirley, 54, said: “At a time when the NHS is being drastically cut, to have been successful with this campaign is simply amazing. We would like to thank the speech and language therapy service for taking our concerns on board.”