I was born and bred in Cheshire, born Deaf to Deaf parents, with British Sign Language as my native language and this has allowed me a long and welcome affiliation with the Deaf Community including representing and contributing at a local and national level; I have been an advocacy campaigner and a lifelong member of the British Deaf Association (BDA) serving on the Board of Trustees for six years. Before moving to Scotland, I was the Team Manager of the Sensory Impairment Team with the City of Stoke-on-Trent Social Services. Throughout my life, I retained my early childhood interest in natural history and continued to build a body of knowledge and experience through various voluntary and statutory organisations with conservation and disabilities. I was a Convenor in the Scottish Council on Deafness (SCoD) that lead the management committee to ensure that it fulfilled its responsibilities for the governance of the Council and worked in partnership with the Director, Lilian Lawson OBE, to help her achieve the mission of the Council. A also regularly attended the Cross-party Group on deafness to represent the interests of deaf and deaf-blind people to the Scottish Parliament. Also, I was part of the working group on the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill (2010-2015). I am Chairman of the Dumfries and Galloway Society for the Deaf, and I support the setting up of the Deaf Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Scotland, as is currently available in England.
At present, I am a conservationist and I have ran the wildlife centre in Kirkcudbright as the Galloway Wildlife Conservation Trust for the past 19 years. I have been a fellow member of the Zoological Society of London since 2003, as well as currently being on the board of directors of The Stove Network in Dumfries since 2020. The Stove Network supports community-led projects focussing on bringing people from diverse backgrounds together. I was an official Conservative candidate standing for the Scottish Parliament in 2021 - the first-ever Conservative candidate using British Sign Language in political history and I have recently been selected as a Scottish Conservative & Unionist candidate for the Dee and Glenkens Ward in Dumfries and Galloway in the upcoming Local Government elections 2022. I am supporting Rosie Cooper’s Private Members’ Bill to make BSL an official language. My interests are in natural history, travelling, photography and politics.
In the late 90s, I was involved with the Disability Forum of Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Council to input BSL issues to the Council encouraging them to develop a good model of practice for accessibility in their service for Deaf/disabled people. Also in those days, I was involved with the Access to Democracy Project Advisory Committee to support and ensure that D/deaf people knew about different voting systems and democratic institutions to give D/deaf people the opportunity to vote and express their views to local councillors, MSP or MP. I believe the Conservative Disability Group is empowering disabled people and Conservative members to know their rights to improve better membership services particularly in grassroots alliance - I hope there will be more debates on this in the future. I think that engaging with politicians and other decision-makers is essential if we want to campaign for change and achieve better equality and inclusion in our society. We all need to vote in the upcoming local and general elections. Politics is all about people and we can all make a difference at a local and national level. For examples, Deaf/disabled people should be able to represent the people of the UK as elected politicians at a national and local level, and serve on boards of our public bodies. Deaf/disabled people should have full access to information about democracy, including voting.