Heather Jackson Award recipient for 2023

This year’s Heather Jackson Award recipient has been announced at the National Association of Deafened People’s (NADP) AGM.

The Heather Jackson Award is made annually to a deafened person who has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the welfare and opportunity of deafened people. 

Heather was NADP’s Chairman and sadly passed away from cancer in 2007 at the age of 58. A charismatic leader, she was not only a guiding force for NADP but was also a trainer on the residential courses at the LINK Centre (now Hearing Link Services) and President of Hi Kent. All three charities are involved in the award.

The recipient

It is a pleasure to announce that Helen Simpson was voted to receive the Heather Jackson Award for this year. Helen has been losing her hearing progressively since childhood but only took action when she suffered from tinnitus in 2005. She was then fitted with two hearing aids though her hearing continues to decline. She has always been passionate about languages and had a successful career as a language teacher at both secondary and now primary schools. Her progressive hearing loss makes her work difficult, but making the school aware of her issues has led to Access to Work funding and a culture change. Helen has even introduced deaf awareness sessions to her language classes, which the children have embraced.

Our peer support volunteer Emmanuelle Blondiaux-Ding was nominated for the Heather Jackson Award and achieved a runners-up prize. This is an incredible achievement and we’re very proud to work alongside Emmanuelle and thankful for all of the time and dedication she provides to Hearing Link Services.

For those of you who don’t know, here is her story:

Emmanuelle was about to leave her native France twenty years ago when she started to lose her hearing. Somehow, she managed to learn English through lipreading, and has since become an eloquent speaker and advocate for deaf awareness. As her hearing continued to deteriorate she had a cochlear implant in 2020. She has volunteered with both Hearing Link and Advanced Bionics and also worked with NADP, providing one-to-one support and raising awareness through talks and blogs. She works in IT training at Leeds Dental Institute. Emmanuelle was one of the first Equity Fellows of West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership following publication of a paper on equal access to healthcare. 

This year, she was a key speaker at the first Deaf and hard of hearing gathering for health and care colleagues. Emmanuelle epitomises what it means to be an advocate for deafened people raising awareness with her unique eloquence, compelling passion and honesty.

2023 runners-up

The two other runners-up were Margaret Cheetham and Julia Cox.

Margaret Cheetham: Margaret has a profound hearing loss and relies mainly on lip-reading for communication. She had a high-profile job in the City of London, but was made redundant as her hearing deteriorated. She has since had a cochlear implant. Margaret has been a volunteer with Hi Kent since 2008 at the Thanet hearing aid aftercare clinics. In 2021, she became the group leader of the new Thanet Social Group, having been Secretary of Thanet Hard of Hearing Club for many years.  That Club met monthly and had an active calendar of guest speakers, days out and even pantomime performances. She tries to look on deafness as an inconvenience rather than a disability.  Margaret’s positive attitude, sunny personality and dry sense of humour make her a true advocate of what can be achieved with a challenging disability.

Julia Cox: Julia was born deaf but not diagnosed until she was four.  Her teachers first put her difficulties down to a learning disorder as she struggled to communicate. She now wears two hearing aids but still relies on lip-reading a great deal. Working as Procurement Director for Edify Training (that’s run by her husband and his business partner), Julia finds living with deafness hard and struggles with meetings. 

In 2021 she attended a Hi Kent social group meeting and soon asked if she could set up a group in the Ashford area. This has proved very successful as she organises activities and supports members. Julia was also the PTA chairperson for her local primary school for six years. She did not let her deafness stop her taking this role and she used her position to increase awareness of hearing problems in the school. She is an active volunteer for Hi Kent, running stalls and fundraising. Julia is a vibrant character and a brilliant role model for young deaf people.

Congratulations to everyone invovled.

Got questions?

Do you have a query about your hearing loss or our services? Our Helpdesk team is here to provide answers.