Bay City Rollers superfan meets idol who unlocked her world of silence

Katie Mallen has said thanks to 1970s band the Bay City Rollers
Katie Mallen has said thanks to 1970s band the Bay City Rollers
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Grateful mum Katie Mallen has said thanks to 1970s band the Bay City Rollers - for rescuing her from a world of silence nearly 40 years ago.

Almost totally deaf from birth, Katie, from Herringthorpe, Rotherham, refused to wear a hearing aid as a child, and found herself lagging behind in lessons at school.

But listening to the Rollers’ hits through a special pair of headphones - which magnified the sound from her hifi - transformed Katie’s life.

Inspired by the band and their music, Katie memorized the lyrics of all their songs and eventually learned how to lip-read and talk.

Now 48 and happily married with three grown-up children Katie finally got to meet her all time hero - lead singer Les McKeown - after the Rollers arrived for a one-night show in Rotherham.

And eldest daughter Michelle was amazed when Les - whose dad was profoundly deaf - was able to chat to her mum using sign language.

Michelle, 26, said: “I was quite nervous about setting up the meeting, but Les was brilliant when I explained how the band had changed my mum’s life, and it was great seeing them chatting together.

“Mum was 11 when she got the headphones, and listening to the Bay City Rollers on her hifi was the first thing she ever heard, so the music made a massive impression in her as a girl.

“If it hadn’t been for the band she’d never have learned to lip-read and talk - the records she played on her hifi made all the difference at the time and I’m glad we got the chance to meet Les and say thanks for all the Bay City Rollers did for my mum all those years ago.

“Mum was just like a teenager when the band started playing their hits. She was so excited jumping up and down and singing along to all the lyrics – it was wonderful seeing her have so much fun.”

Katie’s mum Joyce credits the band with transforming her daughter’s life.

The pensioner, now 79, said: “I’m so glad Katie got to meet Les at last because we all feel so grateful for what the band did for her when she was a girl.

“She’d been deaf till we got the headphones. They managed to magnify what little hearing she had in her left ear, and when we tried them for the first time and played the Bay City Rollers on the hifi Katie’s face lit up. We tried talking to her using the headphones and a microphone, but she wasn’t interested! All she wanted to listen to was the Bay City Rollers.

“She spent all her spare time playing their records over and over again. It was a real breakthrough, and she eventually learned how to talk by listening to the music and the lyrics of each song.

“It wouldn’t have happened without the Bay City Rollers.”

Joyce wrote a personal letter to the band years ago and thanked them for inspiring Katie.

She added: “I wanted them to know what they’d done for my daughter. They sent a really nice letter back with lots of records for Katie, and a lovely pair of tartan trews.”

Katie thinks the band – who sold an estimated 70 million records in the ’70s – are still the greatest in the land.

She said: “I’ve always wanted to say thank you to the band.

“Meeting Les was one of the best moments of my life.”