Bus driver Bob Newitt has paid tribute to specialist medical staff in Bradford who used pioneering surgery to help him hear again after he was deafened in a bomb explosion.

Mr Newitt has lived in a world of silence since the IRA blast two years ago but a cochlear implant fitted in his ear at Bradford Royal Infirmary has now enabled him to pick up sounds in the first operation of its kind on a bomb victim in this country.

Mr Newitt was driving a bus in London when a bomb exploded, killing the terrorist carrying the device. He suffered horrific injuries in the explosion and when he came round after three days he was completely deaf.

The device was switched on two weeks ago and now he is being helped to use the sophisticated hearing aid as its signals are significantly different from normal sound.

It has already aided his lip reading and medical teams in the Yorkshire Cochlear Implant Service based at the Infirmary hope further improvements can be made in coming weeks.

Mr Newitt, 51, of Holbeck, Leeds, said it had made the world of difference to him and praised medical teams for their efforts which had enabled him to hear his two-year-old granddaughter for the first time.

"What they have done in Bradford is fantastic - I will be forever grateful to them because I did honestly think I would never hear again," he said.

"It has helped 100 per cent with the lip reading and picking up sounds like traffic going past although I can't tell the difference between a lorry or a car unless I can actually see it.

"The main thing for me is that I can communicate when someone speaks because before I couldn't pick up anything.

"I can pick up when people are talking to me although I cannot tell the words they are actually saying.

"The first thing I heard was myself walking with my heels on the floor.

"It was fantastic and I've been able to hear my grand kiddies laughing.

"There is a lot of scope for it to get better but just how much no-one can say - we're just hoping for the best."

Consultant ENT surgeon Chris Raine said: "We are obviously pleased there is some element of hearing back.

"We don't know what it's capable of at the moment and it will take several months to settle down.

"We haven't heard of any other patients who have lost their hearing in this way and it will be interesting to see if it is any different from other cases."

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