Inspiring Role Models

Below is a list of Inspirational Role Models from all background and skills, who have broke the glass ceiling to get where they are. They came to Harrow United Deaf Club’s Events to share their amazing achievements, ranging from sailing around the world; becoming a photographer/ film maker; travelled to different country as part of VSO work and many more…

Could you be one of them?

Do you know of someone who should be added onto the list, please do contact us with more information.

Harrow Torchbearer – Ben Lampert, HUDC Ambassador

Hero Ben Lampert is now featured in Harrow Observer Newspaper out today (copy of his article is as attached). He will be carrying the Olympic Torch in Harrow on 23rd July 2012.

Ben Lampert, HUDC Ambassador was carrying the Olympic Torch in Harrow on 23rd July 2012. BBC clip of all Torch bearers in Harrow including Ben Lampert on http://www.bbc.co.uk/torchrelay/day68

Premi Pushpalingham & Mandy Tobin – Harrow Deaf Female Footballers

23 August 2013: Women’s Football Team Great Britain Deaf Women’s Football Team

Premi Pushpalingham (22), a Fulham Deaf Women Footballer, from Stanmore and Mandy Tobin (24), Captain of Fulham Deaf Women’s Football team from North Harrow, took part at the 22nd Deaflympics, representing Great Britain Deaf Women’s Football Team.

Mandy who managed the Fulham Deaf Women’s Football Team as Captain explained how she followed the footsteps of her father, a Football player and a great fan of an Arsenal player Freddie Ljungberg. As a result, Mandy became involved in playing football for the last 10years. Likewise, Premi played football for the last 5years and is a great fan of Ryan Giggs, a well-known football for Manchester United.

The GB Women’s Football team have gone one better than 2009 by winning their bronze medal match at the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia! The match ended in a 1-1 draw and, in scorching hot conditions, the teams had to play extra time then a penalty shoot-out. Fortunately for GB, they won the shoot-out 5-3! Hooray, Great Britain scored third of the World Deaf football League!

  1. USA
  2. Russia
  3. Great Britain

Mandy and Premi were still reeling from the experiences of winning Bronze and soon on their return home, both of them were invited by The Mayor of Harrow, Cllr Nana Asante at the Mayor parlour today (15th August 2013) and gave them, her many congratulations to both girls!

Mandy Tobin exclaimed: “I felt honoured that my dream came true. It felt so nice to be recognised for my great achievement. It amazed me to look back and thought ‘Wow’, we came third of the worldwide Deaf football which itself is something to be proud of! It was also lovely meeting the Mayor today.”

Premi Pushpalingham“I was so shocked to receive a bronze medal, it was an amazing feeling to be part of the Deaflympics Games and even more special to win for our country!”

Both of them are now looking forward to their next challenge, training for the football games at the European Football Championship in Germany in 2015.

Asif Iqbal, President of HUDC was delighted at the news: We have supported Premi in her efforts to fundraise money to fund her trip to Deaflympic and supporting Great Britain Deaf Women’s Football. We were ecstatic when we found out that Premi and Mandy gained a bronze medal. We are so proud of both as both are an excellent role model to others.”

The Mayor of Harrow, Cllr Nana Asante said: “Excellence and striving for sporting success is always inspirational. Jackie Robinson, an inspiring sportsman is reputed to have said  ‘ A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.’  Premi and Mandy’s success in winning the bronze medals will continue to inspire us all for many years to come”

Asif Iqbal MBE:

Asif Iqbal MBE is well known for his vast contribution to the Harrow area for the past 5 years and loves working with the local communities. To date, he has developed strong links with diverse communities and engaging with Deaf and Hearing people, bringing people together living and working in Harrow.

Asif has been President of Harrow United Deaf Club since 2009 and has organised several successful events including: London Olympic Reception 2012; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration 2012; Eid Mubarak & Diwali Celebration; Easter; Christian and Jewish Festival; LGBT Awareness; Chinese New Year; International Women Day; Harrow Deaf Awareness Day 2013. These events have given the opportunities to promote awareness of different faiths and social/cultural backgrounds aswell to bring educational programmes to our members of all ages who are Deaf and Hearing, bringing community cohesion and sharing mutual understandings.  Asif has also supported many local events including Black History Month, Holocaust Memorial Day, Harrow Poppy Day and given inspirational speeches at Hatch End High School and at Harrow Heroes Awards 2012.

In recognition of his community and voluntary work, Asif gained his MBE for his services to Deaf and Disabled people in 2011. Asif was also featured as one of the 60 Faces of Harrow in the Diamond Jubilee book, organised by Harrow Council. The 60 Faces of Harrow book was hand given to Her Majesty The Queen when she visited Harrow for her Jubilee Celebration in June 2012. Asif is in receipt of several awards for his work, including Community Development Award 2013; Special Award in Civil, Social and Community Services in Harrow 2013; GG2 Leadership Award 2013 and Highly Commended for European Diversity Award’s Inspirational Role Model of the Year 2013.

Asif Iqbal appointed Harrow Arts Centre Ambassador and involved in local community projects. 

Harrow Arts Centre is delighted to welcome Asif Iqbal MBE, President of HADC onto their board of Ambassadors, who works with Harrow Arts Centre to engage with local people. The Centre explained the important roles of Ambassadors that Ambassadors make a vital contribution to Harrow Arts Centre’s success by helping engage new audiences, through helping to develop the Centre’s programme for the future and promoting events and activities in their local communities. The aim of Harrow Arts Centre is to increase general audiences, as well as looking to broaden their engagement within currently under-represented communities including the successful BSL interpreted performance of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’.

Asif is also involved in the Headstone Manor Museum project’s Access Panel to advice on accessibility for deaf/ hard of hearing people in accessing to their Museum.

Asif is also standing as an Independent Candidate for Marlborough Ward of Harrow for the local election: http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/local-news/deaf-rights-campaigner-step-world-6786942;  and

Karan Pangali – ‘Just Dance’ TV Star and Artistic Director of KSPARK entertainment:

Global dancing sensation and artistic director of KSPARK entertainments, Karan Pangali catapulted to fame as the sole UK representative to make the final of Bollywood’s Hrithik Roshan’s ‘Just Dance’ competition.

His dance repertoire boasts an exciting fusion of Kathak, Hip-Hop, Bollywood, Bhangra, Salsa and Jazz. Karan has been awarded special Kathak fellowships to learn and work alongside legendary gurus such as Kumudini Lakhia, Pratap Pawar, and Pundit Birju Maharaj.

Not just a performer Karan is also an exceptional choreographer. With a genuine desire to pass on the art of dance to others, coupled with a natural flair for teaching, he established his own dance academy, Karan’s Bollywood Masterclass (KBM). This has opened the door for students of all ages, gender and abilities to have the opportunity to learn and share in Karan’s signature KSPARK dance style.

Councillor Husain Akhtar:

Harrow Asian Deaf Club photo by Cllr Husain Akhtar, one of 700 finalists worldwide, printed  in Harrow Observer newspaper

Cllr Husain Akhtar has been a professional photographer of Harrow United Deaf Club. He was featured in the local newspaper entitled: ‘Husain is a happy snapper’ which appeared in Harrow Observer newspaper dated Thursday 9th August 2012. The article explained that the HADC photo was taken by Cllr Husain Akhtar with a fitting title ‘Sensing the Beat!’ where he took a photo of a deaf girl dancing by feeling the vibrations of the music of her feet at HADC’s Queen Diamond Jubilee Celebration. Many congratulations to Cllr Husain Akhtar who is one of the 700 finalists of the online competition out of 1100 worldwide entrants and as far as he knows, he is the only winner of UK in recognition for his photojournalism.

Deepa Shastri:

Harrow Hero – Deepa Shastri from Harrow performed the song in British Sign Language and sang by Denise Leigh at Paralympic Games’s Opening Ceremony

On Wednesday 29th August, the first ever Paralympic Games was opened in London 2012 with tickets sold out. Lots of local people were involved including some who are Deaf. Asif iqbal MBE, President of Harrow Asian Deaf Club explained“1 billion viewers that saw the Paralympic Games’ Opening Ceremony but little did they know that a Deaf person from Harrow, Deepa Shastri was signing to the song ‘Spirit in Motion’, which was sang by Denise Leigh, soprano who is also blind. Also having British Sign Language (BSL) throughout the ceremony and including the Queen’s speech is an integral part of accessibility and inclusion of Deaf community onto the world. For many of us, we are proud of her and Deepa is an inspiration for us all. 

I hope to see that all public services and provision of services are accessible to deaf people including provisions of BSL interpreters/ captioned shows and events within the local area. And also to ensure deaf people are fully informed and able to access to core public services as any other hearing person can, in line with the Equality Act”.


Blind Soprano, Denise Leigh, and deaf actor Deepa Shastri bring the Paralympic motto – Spirit in Motion – to life in an original composition by Erollyn Wallen.

Ammaar Hussein & Mehtab Hussein:

12th December 2013 HUDC Winner Ammaar Hussein (15) and his mum Mehtab Hussein was presented with trophy for their fundraising efforts at HUDC Christmas Party event hosted by Harrow United Deaf Club (HUDC). http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/10880045.Charity_volunteer_recognised_for_fundraising_work/

Ammaar Hussein won an Award for Fundraising effort, raising £950 for HUDC

HUDC Winner Ammaar Hussein (15) was presented with a trophy for his fundraising efforts at last Saturday event hosted by Harrow United Deaf Club (HUDC). Ammaar explained how he wanted to do something to support Harrow United Deaf Club, having being invited to present his art-work for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee event in June 2012. It was then that he was invited to meet John Purnell, Deputy Lietenant of Harrow, representing HRH the Queen and The Mayor of Harrow. He was star-struck and meeting them had boosted his confidences to show his ability to do anything. He has seen many deaf adults especially Asif Iqbal MBE as a positive role model and dreams of following his footstep.

Since then, he then became actively involved with Harrow United Deaf Club and has been a committed member, wanting to give something back to HUDC.

Ammaar Hussein (15), HUDC member said: “I wanted to do something to support Harrow united Deaf Club.

So I came up with the idea to do a sponsored walk to raise money for HUDC. I got my friends involved and and asked everyone I know to sponsor me. I am grateful to everyone who sponsored me especially Aquila Rajwani who supported me in my endeavour. We had lots of fun during the walk despite the rain, but I enjoyed eating my mini cupcakes.I also did a cake sale in Hatch End High school in which I baked 120  Rose cup cakes with the help of my mum and Deaf Resource Base at Hatch End High School donated a classic Christmas cake which was for auctioned for teachers and was bid at £40 by the English teacher(Sue Redding). So all together I raised £130 from a cake sale and with the sponsorships from the walk, I was lucky enough to raise £950 in total. I look forward to doing more things in the future. A big thank you to my mum who walked every step with me and has always supported me.”

Asif Iqbal MBE, President of HUDC was amazed by the hard work and driving force of Ammaar and added: “I have known Ammaar for the last 18months since he first came to HUDC to showcase his work as part of HUDC’s partnership with Hatch End School’s Deaf Resources Base (which received a positive Ofsted 2013 review). We wanted to encourage young deaf children and young adults to access to our Deaf Club and to make use of the positive Deaf role models that we provides at our regular event, inviting lots of key speakers including most recently, Gerry Hughes, the first Deaf sailor to travel solo around the world who gave a powerful inspirational presentation on Saturday 7th December 2013. His mum joined HUDC as a Committee member so Ammaar became a regular member of the Deaf Club. Ammaar took it at his own initiative to raise money for Harrow United Deaf Club and it was a pleasant surprise to hear how hard he had worked for and the significant amount raised for our Deaf club was very pleasing. I applause him for all his support and he is a positive role model for many people to follow. He reminded me of when I was at his age, doing similar activities for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award Scheme and encourage him to continue thriving. He has lots of potential and I hope he will go very far in life!”.

Gerry Hughes:

Gerry Hughes, who was born profoundly Deaf and communicates in British Sign Language (BSL), set sail on his dream adventure in September 2012. Setting off from the Firth of Clyde, Gerry headed for South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America in an inspiring journey of 51,500km (32,000 miles), single-handedly that touched the hearts of thousands around the world. Eight months later, a shattered but elated Gerry returned home after completing the challenge of a lifetime – and is one of only 300 sailors to complete the feat.
‘It has been a lifelong ambition to sail around the world so it is difficult at the moment to comprehend what I have finally achieved,’ Mr Hughes said.

He shared his amazing story at our HUDC Christmas 2013 event.

Nehal Bhogaita:

Nehal Bhogaita who is a recent winner of Miss India Worldwide 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 27th April 2013. Nehal was the first Deaf person ever in UK to be crowned on international level and this is a massive achievement. Nehal was also a guest at our Deaf Club’s Diamond Jubilee event last July 2012 and Eid & Diwali event in November 2012, providing stunning Bollywood Dance performance. Nehal also gave an inspirational speech about her experience of winning the Miss India Worldwide at our Deaf Club’s BBQ event in July 2013.

Nehal explained about her upbringing and the challenges she faced in achieving her dream which can be found on her website.


Harry Perry & Anthony Tobin:

Harry and Anthony shared their amazing journey to Philippines as part of their VSO work, including the lifestyle that many local Philippines lives, giving us an insight of their culture and communities. Harry and Anthony was involved in an vital project of identifying deaf people living in Philippines, educating them, raising awareness of their basic human rights aswell as to provide the much-needed support. For many, Harry and Anthony are positive role models and inspiring young people in developing countries to aim higher.

Eva Fielding-Jackson:

A well-respected Deaf person in the community – she wrote an autobiography about her life and her deaf parents who survived the holocaust. Her book as as follow:

Hava – Against All Odds
A Deaf Person’s Story

This new autobiography is that comparative rarity – a memoir written by a member of the Deaf community, offering an insight into a world and culture that is relatively inaccessible to most people. Furthermore it is a story of survival and triumph aganst considerable odds, set against the background of the Holocaust.

Very direct, open and uncompromising in its frank depiction of her extraordinary and often sensational life, Hava tells her story as it is, in her own unique and personal style.

Hava was born to two profoundly-deaf Holocaust survivors. Her father miraculously survived seven different concentration camps, among them Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He remained in Bergen Belsen after his liberation until 1947, simply because he was Deaf and did not know the War was over. Later he met her mother in Budapest. Considering the near decimation of the Jewish population of Hungary by the Nazis, for them to have met each other as people who were Jewish, Deaf, single and Hungarian was a virtual miracle.

Growing up as Jewish people in post-War communist Hungary was not easy for her parents. After the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the family made their way to Israel, where a new culture and a new language added to Hava’s difficulties. She was only diagnosed as Deaf when she was 14, and as a consequence Hava had become branded as a problem child. One of her teachers subsequently told her that he had expected her to end up as a whore.

But, against all odds, she prevailed and through sheer strength of character and will-power made a new life for herself. She came to Britain, married her profoundly Deaf husband, and gained a postgraduate degree. She became a widely-known and respected member of the Deaf community in her capacity as a youth worker specialising in helping disabled young people. She is also a trustee for the British Deaf Association.

Her upbringing and the harrowing story of her parents’ survival have made her deeply committed to Holocaust awareness teaching which she undertakes all over the world. This is her remarkable and inspiring story.

Eva came to Harrow United Deaf Club’s Easter Party 2014 to share her Jewish interactive experiences, explaining how Jewish festivals are celebrated including Shabbat, Passover and members were invited to try out Jewish wine (or Grape juice – non alcoholic drink) and Cholla bread.

Revered Anne Richards:


Peter Tatchell:

Peter Tatchell, a well-known human rights campaigner won several awards including the ‘Lifetime
Achiever Award’ at the National Diversity Awards 2012; ‘Campaigner of the Year’ at the
fourth Observer Ethical Awards 2009 and Liberal Democrat Voice’s third annual ‘Liberal Voice of
the Year’ award for his “tireless and fearless international human rights campaigning.”

Peter was one of our key speaker at our HUDC Event: Fight for your Right – June 2013 where he shared his story of challenges in campaigning for the human rights.


Councillor Susan Hall – Leader of Harrow Council:

Councillor Susan Hall, Leader of Harrow Council as the first female leader of the Harrow Council. She shared her experience of how she started in her career as mechanic and own her garage in those days where female mechanic were unheard of. She explained of her career and being a mum, she took a career break to focus on bringing up her children before considering a career change to politics. She looked up as Margaret Thatcher as a positive leader who inspired Susan to follow in her footstep. Susan gave some key message to women; “work hard to achieve your dream, keep trying and not to give up!”

She shared her inspirational story at our HUDC’s International Women Day in March 2014.

Sabina Iqbal, Chair/ Founder of Deaf Parenting UK:

 Sabina Iqbal, Chair/Founder of Deaf Parenting UK, the first charity run by deaf parents for deaf parents in UK and worldwide. Sabina shared her experience as a Deaf Muslim woman, challenging stereotype within Asian Communities to think positively about deafness and disability. With the right support and encouragement, they can achieve. Sabina broke through the glass ceiling in her work, as an author of the book Pregnancy and Birth: A Guide for Deaf Women which follows stories of deaf women who had encountered barriers while giving birth within the hospital/health services (the first book of its kind, in the world) and travelled internationally, gave presentation on Deaf Parenting UK and the voluntary work she does. In parallel, she works as Sensory Services Team Manager for a large local authority, managing 25 staff as well as a mum of 3 young children (8, 6 and nearly 4yrs old). In recognition of her work, Sabina gave an insights of numerous awards for her pioneering efforts, including ‘Tesco Charitable Mum of the Year’ (February 2010); ‘Most Powerful Muslim Women in Britain by Equality & Human Right Commission (March 2009); and ‘European Muslim Women of Influence’ (Oct 2010).

She shared her inspirational story at our HUDC’s International Women Day in March 2014.

Emma Richards:

Emma Richards, Chief Inspector Operations Harrow Borough Police, she shared her inspiration in form of her father who was in the Police force that inspired her at the tender age of 2, that she developed her love for Police force. She also found her mum and her sister as an inspirational and it was for her love in the popular American TV serial Cagney and Lacey that Emma decided on a career in Police. She was trained in fire-arm, rare for women in her. She loves following the footsteps of Cagney and Lacey; she believes in women doing a good job and see herself as a positive role model. Here, she took part of the Police Security for the key events including the Royal wedding of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; manned the security for the Olympic Parade, Diamond Jubilee and even her daughter’s Olympic torch relay. She was honoured with an Police award, presented by her favourite star Cagney – real name is Sharon Gless.

She shared her inspirational story at our HUDC’s International Women Day in March 2014.

Mei Sim OBE DL:

Mei Sim OBE DL, Deputy Lieutenant (DL) of Brent as the first Chinese woman as DL, she challenged the stereotypes of Chinese women and showed the world that Chinese women can achieve in politics and provided the leadership in community. She shared some insight of the Chinese Education in her days where the focus was very much on boys to achieve more and live in luxury and girls to live in hardship. She was fortunate that her father treated her and her siblings equally and invested in their education. From there, Mei was inspired to do more for her communities whilst focusing on her career as a Chartered Accountant, and as a result of her hard work, she was invited to be a DL and was privileged to meet and represent the Queen.

She shared her inspirational story at our HUDC’s International Women Day in March 2014.

Councillor Nana Asante, Former Mayor of Harrow:

Former Mayor of Harrow, Councillor Nana Asante; she shared her experiences of her positive role models who inspired her in her journey before she became the Mayor of Harrow. She spoke about the changes in tradition and culture which was male-dominated and gave example of the old days where women made a stand and fought to achieve a dream of their people. This inspired her to make a stand as a councillor and led to her role as a Mayor for the year 2013/14.

She shared her inspirational story at our HUDC’s International Women Day in March 2014.

Councillor Kareema Marikar:

Councillor Kareema Marikar, she shared her experience as the first Sri-Lankan Muslim woman as a Councillor and fought for the rights of women. She also believes in supporting communities and challenging stereotypes around mental health well-being. It was unheard for Sri-Lankan to have a female leader and Kareema have overcome so many obstacles to get where she is.

She shared her inspirational story at our HUDC’s International Women Day in March 2014 and was awarded with a framed certificate of appreciation, in recognition of her being a pro-active councillor, showing her support to Harrow United Deaf Club

Sandra Duguid:

Sandra Duguid, Guest speaker about her business BSLwork, Daily Mirror newspaper interview with her with Carole Malone and her battle with her Access to work. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/austerity-britain-deaf-sign-language-1926821. She gave a presentation at our Deaf Club’s BBQ event in July 2013.

Lenka Prokes of Terra Consultancy Ltd.

Lenka was a Guest speaker at our July 2013 BBQ event, explaining how to promote your business and to encourage Deaf people to take a pro-active approach ‘in trying their own wings’ in business and employment in general. Her presentation focused on Deaf business people for Deaf people aspiring to venture in business.

Brianna Wang, TV presenter of UK People online (Chinese programme)

Brianna is a well-known Chinese TV presenter. She was a guest speaker at our Chinese New Year 2014 event where she gave a presentation, explaining in details the meaning of the Chinese New Year and how it was celebrate by the Chinese community. She showed us some vibrant photos of Chinese New Year celebration and their culture of how the event is celebrated; including the lion/ dragon dances, the foods that people eat to celebrate, clothing and gifting people with money (using special even numbers to give them luck) and firecrackers (to warn away the evils). It was a fascinating insight for many of our members.

Penny Beschizza, Deaf Mum, Deaf/ BSL Educator and Board member of BSLBT:

Penny  Beschizza  is  a  parent  of  two  grown-up  children,  who  has  never forgotten  her  early  days  as  a  Deaf  mum.  She  has  worked  in  the  post-16 education  sector for over twenty years,  working  with  young  Deaf  people  from disadvantaged  backgrounds  and  additional  disabilities.  She also taught BSL and Deaf Awareness Training.  In  her  voluntary  role,  she  is  involved  with supporting  access  and equality  for  Deaf  TV  viewers  and  is  currently  on  the board of the British Sign Language  Broadcasting Trust. She is also in Signs of God,  a  BSL  training  organisation  that  promotes  high  quality  BSL  access  for Deaf  people  attending  church. Penny is a versatile campaigner and advocate, believing in widening participation of Deaf people in society

Esmail Patel, Chief Executive Officer, Deaf Education Advocacy Fellowship (DEAF)

Esmail Patel, was born Deaf and graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a combined honours degree in business information systems, criminology and career management and is also a qualified teacher. He is a proficient user of British Sign Language which is complemented by his lip-reading skills.

DEAF is heavily involved in the deaf community, providing a number of services designed to encourage and empower deaf people to achieve their personal goals, promotes equality and equal access to information and services. He also has knowledge, experience and skills in employment, education, and the training sector, highly recognised and honoured for his achievements and awards.

In his role as CEO, he is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the company, and that it is achieving the milestones that it sets itself, as well as making sure that Deaf people are being represented and supported to access everyday services.

Website: http://www.deaf-fellowship.org/

Ilan Dwek, Deaf Interpreter/ Assessor & Deaf Actor:

Ilan Dwek has been involved in education for a number of years in various roles, including working as a Deaf Interpreter since the mid 1980s and for the past decade as a freelance assessor and verifier for BSL NVQ Levels 3 and 6. Since 2011, Ilan has lectured at the University of Reading focusing on Deaf Studies and Sign Theatre Translation modules.

When asked about his acting career, Ilan said “It is important to bear in mind that I stumbled into acting by accident. I had always enjoyed acting at school – doing a few plays both of comedic and religious nature – however after leaving school, I studied mathematics for a degree course as I was led to believe that Deaf people could not become actors. By chance, in 1992, I went to an acting workshop and was then invited to audition where to my bemusement I got an acting part in a play! Much as I enjoyed my experience, I realised I had a lot to learn and for the next few years I attended weekend training courses on various acting techniques, as well as auditioning for parts in plays. It was a never-ending round of trying your hardest to get acting jobs, and I have come to appreciate that acting workshops and auditions are an essential part of networking and making yourself better known in this extremely competitive industry.” (Source: Deaf Unity, 2013)

Geraldine O Halloran, Strategic Development Officer of Inclusion London

Geraldine has been in the disability movement for over 20years including CEO of Greenwich Association of Disabled people.

Geraldine was one of our Deaf Guest speaker together with Thomas Lichy on Fight for your Rights in relation to BSL. Tom Lichy and Geraldine O’ Halloran explained how deaf people can be empowered by their experiences of oppression and how to stand up for themselves and to give a ‘voice’. Useful tips were given for audiences to consider of how they can be involved ranging from making a complaint, to contributing to group discussion, to campaigning on local/ national level. The essential of the evening is to educate people of their basic human rights and that they should ‘fight for their rights’ and not to allow such oppression/ discrimination to continue, impacting on the lives of many thousands and million of deaf/ hard of hearing people in UK, given the fact that 1 in 6 in UK population are deaf/ hard of hearing. Feedback from the audiences that they came away more inspired, empowered and energy to do something more to support the campaign for BSL Act and how to challenge discriminations that affect the daily lives of many deaf/ hard of hearing people.

Thomas Lichey:

Sylvia Simmonds:

Sylvia is currently freelance as a general and mental health Advocate and a fully qualified deaf relay interpreter, British Sign Language Teacher and assessor.  Previously Head of Training & Assessment Operations at Sign Solutions. Sylvia grew up within a Deaf family, and has always been a major figure within the Deaf Community.  Sylvia is a qualified and experienced teacher and boasts a wide range of experience within the Deaf and BSL domain.

She has over 30 years of tutoring experience having worked as a trainer, training co-coordinator, and Disability tutor for the West of England Coalition of Disabled people, and British Sign Language (BSL) and Deaf studies teacher at ElmfieldSchool for Deaf children, Bristol.

On volunteer based, Sylvia is involved in campaigner for recognition of BSL for many years with the position role including previously Unison National Disability Member Co-chair, Trade Union Committee representing Disability, vice chair of British Deaf Association, President of Europe Deaf Youth Council and expert advisor to World Federation of Deaf and a strong belief to supporting Deaf and BSL community as equal access as hearing community.  Currently campaign activists for Split the Dummy and campaign for BSL Act

When she is not working, Sylvia enjoys learning about the history of Deaf issues, computing, travelling and exploring historic architectural buildings, as she is also a qualified architect!

Sylvia was our Guest speaker for ‘Fight for your Right’ in relation to BSL rights.

Sylvia Simmonds, one of the Founders of the ‘Spit the Dummy Campaign’ (STDC) Facebook group who campaigned for BSL Act, explained about the history of BSL recognition in March 2003 and 10 years on, nothing much changes and deaf people still faced so many barriers/ discrimination. Silvia called for a formal BSL Act with some rights that are not enshrined very well in the current Equality Act which is currently failing many deaf people.  For example, Equality Act says you [service provider] must provide BSL interpreter but service providers have no idea what Equality Act is all about. The term ‘reasonable adjustments’ has been incorrectly interpreted and the consequences of service providers’ failure to understand their requirements under the Equality Act including being taken to court and been heavily fined for not complying with the Act.

Sylvia Simmonds explained the mission of STDC is “to achieve its vision; for Her Majesty’s Government (The Government) to review and endorse our campaign request to upgrade the position of BSL from ‘Recognition’ to ‘Legal status’ as this will improve the BSL community’s access to society and provide equal opportunities for all.” Also with the BSL Act, the campaign is for BSL to be given equal status to English, Welsh and Gaelic and other spoken languages in UK, and used in public authorities, court service etc ensuring  equal access to public services, bilingual/bicultural education for deaf children, and BSL recognition as legal status.

Positive outcomes so far from STDC for BSL Act including:

  • BSL community got involved with EDM 1167 – achieving good support with 122 signatures from MPs within 5 weeks.  MPs start to talk about BSL Community.
  • BSL community contribute with BSL video, comments regularly with Admin support, with new posts every day. They have gained the confidence to challenge and request their rights to access.
  • FB members empowered with support/advocate involvement
  • Supporting each other in both BSL and English

Councillor Nizam Ismael (Former Mayor of Harrow Council):

Cllr Nizam Ismael was seen as one of the foremost supporter of Harrow United Deaf Club and attended our events without fails. We are grateful for his support and raising the profile of our Deaf Club. He was also one of our inspirational speaker for Harrow Deaf Awareness Day 2013.

Sidika Mustafa Dewji:

Mamta Farfoia:

Davina Baptiste, Health Improvement Specialist, St Mark’s Bowel Cancer Screening Programme

Davina gave a presentation on Bowel Cancer at our Deaf Club: http://hudc.org.uk/portfolio/bowel-cancer-awareness/

Fateha Begum, Guest speaker on Islamic and the meaning of Eid:

Fateha, is Deaf Muslim woman from Al Isharah , a charity that provides Deaf Islamic Education to deaf children and adults.

Fateha gave a presentation on meaning of Eid at our Deaf Club’s Eid & Diwali event 2012

Radha Mohan Das:

David Buxton, Chief Executive Officer of British Deaf Association:

David Buxton is Deaf since birth and a proud parent of 10 years old partially deaf son. He used to be a Borough Councillor and also stood for Parliament twice and Greater London Assembly in 2000. As a founder of Liberal Democrats Disability Association 21 years ago, he is one of 40 leadership candidates to seek parliamentary selection at the next General Election. After obtaining MBA, he worked as a senior strategic commissioning manager for disabilities and HIV/AIDS for London Borough Council for about five years, then moved on to become the Regional Operations Manager for SCOPE, and now Chief Executive Officer of the British Deaf Association since March 2011. His main interests are reading law and politics, debates and history.

David gave a presentation on BSL Charter at Harrow Deaf Awareness Day May 2013

Iain Sutherland, Bristol City Council’s Deaf Equality Officer.

Iain is a part-time Deaf Equality Officer working for Bristol City Council, as part of the wider corporate Equality team although his role is specific and focus on the needs and equality consideration for Deaf people. Iain has began to work for Bristol City Council at summer 2007, however Bristol City Council have already adopted BSL charter (declared pledges and commitment to Deaf community and deaf people) in 2004.

Part of his role was to influence the council’s strategy and service providers to include the needs of deaf people, to encourage deaf people to gain equal access with Bristol City Council’s service and their partner organisations. At the recent Harrow Deaf Awareness Day in May 2013 as a guest speaker, he gave a presentation, about the council’s progress and efforts on improving access for Deaf people whether they are service users, employees, citizens, residents.

Richard Webbs-Steven, Motorcyclist Paramedic for London Ambulance Service:

“I was born with severe bilateral hearing loss and I have worn hearing aids since the age of 4 and I live in Harrow with my wife and 3 children.  I have served in the London Ambulance service for 16 years where I currently work as a Motorcycle Paramedic and do community work where I teach people how to do CPR so the can resuscitate some if they have a cardiac arrest.”

Richard is invited to Harrow United Deaf Club as one of our guest speaker for September event, explaining about first aid and how to make people safe. He was also interviewed by SLFirst magazine about his life and his job as motorcyclist Paramedic, helping save lives on the streets of London: http://slfirst.co.uk/community/deaf-life/deaf-motor-bike-paramedic-helping-save-lives-on-the-streets-of-london/ 

Shezad Nawab, Deaf Enterpreneur

He had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. He explained: When I was 10 years old, I asked my father how he could become a millionaire and make my fortune. He explained the steps that you had to take to achieve success. He said that to “you have to build great foundations and take small steps to achieve big things”. Shezad has been raised in a ‘Business focussed’ family. 
His initial experiences in business and work gave him passion to move to highest levels. He set up a businesses and companies on; Princess Beauty, World Property Luxury, Business Consulting, Global Synergy Group, fabsolutions, and many more.

Shezad has many ventures with blue chip companies in a vast range of sectors. He said: “I am passionate about entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom, Europe, International and has helped many new businesses, start ups, SMEs and growing businesses.”

Omoyele Thomas – Singer/ BSL interpreter

Omoyele sang 6 beautiful songs throughout the day, in celebration of Harrow United Deaf Club’s 5th Anniversary on Saturday 7th June 2014 at C&L Country Club including:

Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher

Put A Little Love in Your Heart

Search For The Hero Inside Yourself

Next To Me


You Can’t Hurry Love.

Actual lyrics of the above songs can be found here.

Hasnian Somji, Cake Chef

Hasnian inspired us all when he made a special cake and donated to our Harrow United Deaf Club’s 5th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday 7th June 2014. He told us how proud he was to have made it for the special occasion.

To see the full news, click here

Rochford Irish Dance Group

Harrow United Deaf Club were delighted to the special performance from Rochford Irish Dance Group at their recent 5th Anniversary Celebration which took place on Saturday 7th June 2014. The group consist of 12 young girls who wowed us with their Irish dancing. We wanted to thank them for inspiring our young generation and enabling us to enjoy their special performance. Keep up the good work.

Nadia Choudhury, Bengali dancer

Harrow United Deaf Club were delighted to the special performance from Nadia Choudhury who performed Bengali dance about the beauty of the world at their recent 5th Anniversary Celebration which took place on Saturday 7th June 2014. 

Graham Welton, Community Officer of British Deaf Association

Graham Welton of British Deaf Association (BDA). Graham explained to the audiences on the importance of BSL Charter with 5 key pledges that local authorities, Health and Police are expected to follow. Harrow United Deaf Club organized Harrow Deaf Awareness Day in May 2013 and it was then that delegates called for Harrow Council to sign up, showing commitment to deaf and hard of people living and working in Harrow. (http://hudc.org.uk/portfolio/harrow-deaf-awareness-day-2013/). Since then, deaf members were concerned and campaigned for Harrow Council to sign up the BSL Charter. To read more about his presentation at HUDC’s Halloween Party (Oct 2014), click here. Local news have picked up the news about HUDC’s call for Harrow to sign up to BSL Charter:



Councillor Anne Whitehead

Councillor Anne Whitehead attended our HUDC’s September Event (AGM & First Aid workshop). Here, she explained about her key roles and responsibilities for Health in Harrow and shared some key areas of improvement in health services for deaf people including visual display board at GP surgeries, hospitals so patients can see when their name get called rather than missing out. She added that it is essential for all staff to be trained in Deaf Awareness. Some of the midwives are able to communicate in BSL. HUDC welcomes the positive news and opened up a forum to the members who shared their positive and negative experiences in health eg hospitals, GP, the inconsistency of standards across all health services and the poor accessibility of having to wait a month for a BSL interpreter for health appointments. Councillor Anne Whitehead took on board of the members’ concerns and agreed to take them back to the Council and NHS.


Honey Kalaria of Honey Dance Academy

Harrow United Deaf Club is pleased to have a Bollywood Dance Star – Honey Kalaria of Honey Dance Academy to join our HUDC Eid & Diwali celebration. Honey Dance Academy will be doing a vibrant dance performance for us which is promising to be exciting and thrilling!

“I am delighted to support such a great organisation who is touching deaf people and their families lives in a positive and impactful way. My dance students and I look forward to offering some colourful bollywood entertainment during the event to help with the fundraising efforts during the festive season of Diwali and Eid. Good luck to Asif and the team!”

Honey Kalaria, Bollywood Ambassador to the UK.

To learn more about the event, check out: http://hudc.org.uk/bollywood-dance-star-to-join-hudc-eid-diwali-celebration/

Uma Kumaran – Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East

Uma has been a strong supporter of Harrow United Deaf Club and was a host of our Eid & Diwali Celebration at HUDC on 1st November 2014. Here, she learnt BSL (British Sign Language) where she introduced herself fluently much to the surprise of our audiences!

About Uma
I’m proud to live in Harrow, it’s the place I love and home to the people I care about.

With a decade of experience campaigning on issues that have affected our community, I understand what it takes to deliver a real change for the better. I work for a pioneering inner city Council helping deliver affordable homes for thousands of Londoners, making a real difference to everyday lives.

Here in Harrow, I volunteer as a radio presenter in Northwick Park Hospital – It’s just one small way I can say thank you to the wonderful staff at the A&E department who saved my dad’s life, like it has done for so many others in our community.

Having studied in local schools – Newton Farm Primary, then Bentley Wood Girl’s School and finally St Dominic’s Sixth Form, I now sit as school governor at a local infant and nursery in our Borough. I’m grateful for the start in life the education I received in Harrow gave me. That’s why I’m passionate about protecting our local family of schools against the Tory led government’s dismantling of education as we know it.

Before getting involved in politics, I worked for the NHS supporting doctors and nurses in 66 Trusts around England. I’m continuing to fight to protect A&E departments in North West London from dangerous Tory cuts. I have also worked as a caseworker for a local MP and as a policy researcher for a Minister in the last Labour Government.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Politics and Master of Science (MSc) in Public Policy from Queen Mary University of London.

Mayor of Harrow – Councillor Ajay Maru

The Mayor attended Harrow United Deaf Club for Eid & Diwali Celebration on 1st November 2014 and gave his support:
“Thank you to Harrow United Deaf Club for your kind invitation, asking me to join you all to celebrate Eid and Diwali. I am pleased to be here and support the Club’s positive work. I have read all the stories about Harrow United Deaf Club and I must say that the Club have had amazing achievements in the last 5 years. The Club is an inspiration for many of us locally and across the Country – the strength and the passion in working together, bringing community together as a unity, learning from each other and support one another. We need to take away lessons from HUDC and share with other community groups as HUDC is a positive role model that we need to take with us wherever we go.

Today, it is extremely important for us all to be together, respecting each other culture and faiths and to celebrate Eid & Diwali. I wish you all a Happy Eid and Happy Diwali. God bless you all”

About The Mayor – Councillor Ajay Maru:
Get West London wrote:
HARROW has got its first Gujarati mayor – a cricket-loving, hard-working, hair salons-owning father-of-two.

Councillor Ajay Maru, a Labour ward councillor for Kenton West first elected in 2010, was installed as the First Citizen of the Borough on Thursday at Harrow Council ‘s Harrow Civic Centre. He said: “I am honoured to take on this role as Mayor and I am committed to supporting our residents and bringing communities together.The wellbeing and welfare of residents is also important to me. I want to work with other party members, Mayors and councillors so that we can work together to strengthen community cohesion and unity.I look forward to meeting different communities in Harrow and all the great projects over my mayoral year.”

Mr Maru grew up in Kenya belonging to the oldest family in the country and took part in lots of community work alongside his father. He married wife Dina in 1992 and the couple have a son and a daughter both studying in Harrow. Since moving to London in 1999, the 48-year-old finished a Masters in Hairdressing and has opened three hair salons and a training centre in the borough. Mr Maru said: “I want to help local enterprises and the business community as Harrow has helped me and my business flourish. It would be my way of giving back to the community.”

He is currently an active member of the Co-operative Society, trade union GMB, and Kenton Traders’ Association and is a Safer Neighbourhood team member. The cricket and stand-up comedy fan is a practising Hindu and worships at local temples.

The cause he will raise money for during his mayoral year is adoption charity Coram. Mr Maru said: “I have chosen Coram as my chosen charity because children are just as important as other members of the community.Supporting them and seeing what good we can do in helping their wellbeing and welfare is important.”

Dame Evelyn Glennie

Awarded Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2007 Evelyn Glennie is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist. As one of the most eclectic and innovative musicians on the scene today she is constantly redefining the goals and expectations of percussion by creating performances of such vitality they almost constitute a new type of performance.

Since graduating with an Honours degree from the Royal Academy of Music, London in 1985 at the age of 19, Evelyn gives more than 100 performances a year worldwide, performing with the greatest conductors, orchestras, and artists. Her diversity of collaborations include visual mixing of live music with the likes of DJ Yoda and the ‘Beat Boxer’ Shlomo. She is also creating new challenges through her collaboration with the Dance Choreographer Marc Brew as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Other collaborations include Nana Vasconcelos, Kodo, Bela Fleck, Bjork, Bobby McFerrin, Sting, Emmanuel Ax, Kings Singers, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Fred Frith and the Taipei Traditional Chinese Orchestra. Evelyn was a featured solo performer in the opening ceremony of the Deaf Olympics in Taipei in 2009. She was also guest performer in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002. In July 2012 Evelyn was honoured to take a lead role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. In collaboration with Underworld Evelyn led 1000 drummers for the world premiere of ‘And I will Kiss’ and also premiered Caliban’s Dream’ on a newly developed instrument called the ‘Glennie Aluphone’ accompanying the lighting of the flame.

Evelyn is the leading commissioner of around 170 new works for solo percussion from many of the world’s most eminent composers. As a triple GRAMMY award winner and BAFTA nominee Evelyn is in demand as a composer in her own right and records high quality music for film, television and music library companies. The film Touch the Sound and her enlightening TED speech remain key visual & audio testimonies to her world of sound creation knowledge and understanding. Her most recent film score was Golf in the Kingdom released in the USA in 2011.

Experience based on presenting two series of her own television programme (Soundbites) for the BBC and several radio programmes led to regular appearances on television across the world, including The David Letterman Show, Sesame Street, The South Bank Show, Songs of Praise, Wogan, This is Your Life, Through the Keyhole, The Des O’connor Show, 60 minutes, PBS Profile, Sky Arts Music Room, The Commonwealth Games Concerts and Zingzillas demonstrate an incredible journey by an extraordinary woman who continues to develop and evolve.

Evelyn’s solo recordings, which now exceed 30 CDs, have earned her three GRAMMY awards: one for her interpretation of Bartók’s ‘Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion’, another for her premiere recording of Corigliano’s perucssion concerto ‘Conjurer’ and one for ‘Perpertual Motion’ – a collaboration with Bela Fleck. An additional nomination was received for her recording of Schwatner’s Percussion Concerto. Both ‘Shadow Behind the Iron Sun’ and ‘Sound Spirits’ continue to be best selling albums that amply demonstrate the brilliant improvisational skills of this ground breaking performer. As a successful author she wrote her autobiography at the age of 24 and has written articles for Tom Tom Magazine for female drummers and remains a keen lobbyist for change and improvement in the world of music education. As an eminent global activist in the world of motivational speaking her message is delivered loud and clear on ‘How to Listen’ to a variety of diverse corporate companies, key educational institutes as well as public and private events. Read more, click here

Photo 1 by Rachel Blackwell
Photo 2 by MikeBlake/Reuters
Photo 3 by Jim Callaghan

Hannah David- Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow West

Hannah has been a strong supporter of Harrow United Deaf Club and was a host of our Christmas Celebration at HUDC on 6th December 2014. Here, she learnt BSL (British Sign Language) where she introduced herself fluently much to the surprise of our audiences!

About Hannah
Hannah is a mother of three, a non-practising solicitor who specialised in property law, and a small-business woman. Hannah has had over 10 years of experience in local politics, having been three times elected as a Borough Councillor and having served as a Town Council Leader. She recently graduated with an MSC in Town Planning from University College London.

Hannah has been the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow West for two years. In that time she has worked hard for local people. Hannah says:

“Over the last two years I have run many campaigns to support the hard-working people of Harrow West.

Through my volunteering initiative, the Rubbish Friends, I have worked with local people to deliver a cleaner and tidier Harrow. Every month I take the Rubbish Friends to a different location within the Borough to tidy up a local street, road or park – helping to restore a sense of civic responsibility and pride in our community.

I have set up the Harrow Business Club to help local Businesses to promote themselves, network and grow, and to bring new jobs and apprenticeships to Harrow.

I am currently running campaigns to bring Crossrail to Harrow and Wealdstone Station, to protect the natural and historic beauty of Harrow on the Hill, and to regenerate Harrow Town Centre, Sudbury Hill and South Harrow.

I’m determined to be the hardest working MP Harrow West has ever had. I will stand up for our community, and offer a real change for the better in Harrow West – brining new opportunity, and securing the future for our community.”

Sam Gardner, Musician/ Drummer

Sam was exposed to music from an early age. Born into a musical family, Sam’s grandfather John Gardner (1917-2011) was a prolific British composer, musician and teacher; and his father Chris Gardner, a musician, composer and musical director.

Though primarily a drummer Sam is an experienced double bass player and was principal bassist of the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra in 2006.
He studied jazz as a drummer at Leeds College of Music from 2007 to 2011 and now lives and works as a professional musician in London.

Sam plays a wide range of music in a variety of styles including jazz, Indian classical music, Salsa and other Latin American styles. He has performed with many established musicians such as Krzysztof Urbanski, Toni Kofi, Tim Whitehead, Jamil Sheriff, Jiannis Pavlidis, Mark Donlon, Joel Purnell, Stuart McCallum, Omar Puente, Christine Tobin and John Surman.

Since 2009 Sam has studied the Indian classical repertoire of the Tabla under the legendary Bhupinder Singh Chaggar. Under his tutelage he has learned the repertoire of the tabla and translated it for performances on drum kit. In 2011 he was involved with initiating IMOWI (Indian Music On Western Instruments) with with saxophonist Jesse Bannister.

Sam has been involved in many different projects and has experience as bandleader, side-man, composer and session musician. In 2011 he was awarded a place on the Jazz Yorkshire Futures Scheme which has afforded him the opportunity to write and record with his quartet, study with drummer Dave Hassle and pianist/drummer Gary Husband. Then in 2012 he was awarded the Jazz Services Recording Support award and the Touring Support award for his band Samadhi who recorded their debut album ‘The Dance of Venus.

To date Sam continues to perform across the UK and is in high demand on the national music scene.
(Source: http://www.samgardnermusic.com/bio/)

Neil Ayisis, Police Officer and Tom Jones, PCSO of Harrow Police

PC Neil Ayisi and Tom Jones (PCSO), of Harrow Police, explained the process of stop and search and why it is important to co-operate with the police if you are stopped. Both of them gave a presentation at Harrow United Deaf Club on 3rd January 2015.

Here, the guest speakers explained that regardless of race, culture or gender; it is their responsibility to stop and search someone if they have reasons to be concerned about as follow:

A police officer has powers to stop you at any time and ask you:
– what you’re doing
– why you’re in an area and/or where you’re going
However, you don’t have to answer any questions the police officer asks you.

Stop and search: police powers

A police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:
– illegal drugs
– a weapon
– stolen property
– something which could be used to commit a crime, eg a crowbar

You can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if it is suspected that:
– serious violence could take place
– you’re carrying a weapon or have used one
– you’re in a specific location or area
– Before you’re searched

Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you:
– their name and police station
– what they expect to find, eg drugs
– the reason they want to search you, eg it looks like you’re hiding something
– why they are legally allowed to search you
– that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy

Removing clothing: police powers

A police officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves. The police might ask you to take off other clothes and anything you’re wearing for religious reasons – eg a veil or turban. If they do, they must take you somewhere out of public view. If the officer wants to remove more than a jacket and gloves they must be the same sex as you.

Being searched doesn’t mean you’re being arrested.

Harrow Police stressed that their message about Stop and Search is clearly nothing to do with race or as such; however it is important to check someone if the Police have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect someone as explained above.

There were lots of questions from the floor, asking about access and what can they do to ensure deaf and hard of hearing people have fully access. Harrow Police assured the audiences that they will provide BSL interpreters at the local police station if arrested or subject to questioning. There were also discussions about Deaf awareness as some members shared experiences of poor access to Police. HUDC offered some support to ensure better awareness and access to deaf people within the Police.

In appreciation of their time, all three guest speakers were presented with a gift together with a certificate of thanks in recognition of their hard work.

Asif Iqbal MBE, President of HUDC, explained: “It was a fantastic evening and a great start to the year 2015. Lots of our members found the evening very useful and thought-provoking. It was also good opportunity for our members to give feedback on how the services can be improved to meet deaf people’s needs. The evening enabled our members to be aware what to do if they ever get ‘Stop & Search’.

We now look forward to our upcoming events including Valentine & being Red (Feb); Inspiring Youth (March) and our Easter Party, fun for all. To learn more, check out our website: www.hudc.org.uk/events”.