Board of Directors

British Deaf History Society, a registered Company and Charity, is led by its Board of Directors.  See below for details of the Directors in their mini biographies.

Diane M. WEBB, ChairDiane Webb
Diane comes from a strong Irish family from Co Kildare, Eire.  She attended Mill Hall Oral School for the Deaf in Sussex from 1952 to 1965.  At 17 years of age, she was an apprentice in graphic design for an advertising company in London.

From 1993 to 2007, as a qualified teacher with the peripatetic team based in Newham, East London, Diane taught Deaf history to Deaf childrenin mainstream settings as a part of the PSHE curriculum.  Since retiring from Newham in 2007, Diane is now working as a freelance NVQ assessor with Remark!  Diane joined the BDHS as a Trustee in 2002.

Her previous voluntary work as BDA London Regional Committee member (1983-1986); Secretary and Editor for Newham Deaf Children Society (1995-2000); BDA London Working Group (2005-2006); and sitting on the Historic Palace Committee (2013-present) demonstrates the breadth of her experience.


Jemima BUOY, Vice-ChairJemima Buoy 2
Jemima has been interested in history for as long as she can remember, the social and interpersonal aspects in particular have always fascinated her.  Her father introduced her to the world of family history when she was a teenager, it was some years later that she started to actively undertake research.  Through a friend she became immersed in the fascinating world of censuses and parish registers, and she still uses them daily along with other resources, in particular online tools for family history research.

Her interest in Deaf History started when she attended the University of Bristol in 1997 studying the Deaf Studies Diploma.  One of her favourite modules was Deaf History and she have been engrossed with the history of deaf people’s lives ever since.

She has over 20 years experience in administration and she has worked for organisations such as Friends for the Young Deaf and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf. She now works part-time as a Team Administrator at Sense.

Today, combining her administration experience and her hobby in genealogy, she also runs a small business as a genealogy researcher.  She works with a broad spectrum of clients, including some from overseas.  She is also studying Genealogical Studies at the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.


John A. HAY, MBEJohn
John co-founded the British Deaf History Society (BDHS) with Raymond Lee in 1993.  Apart from a few years, John has been the Chair ever since.  Currently, he is also the co-editor of the Deaf History Journal.   He has contributed several research papers to this journal, and other publications, as well as presenting papers at workshops, seminars and conferences, both at home and overseas.  He has previously been the President of Deaf History International, the international organisation that promotes the history of deaf communities worldwide.

His engagement with deaf history started in his schooldays in the 1960s when he first learnt about the pioneers of Deaf education.  While working as a community education tutor for Deaf adult learners with the Lothian Regional Council, from 1988, he developed and ran a course on Edinburgh Deaf Heritage.  John also conducted walking tours of Edinburgh’s Deaf Heritage to groups and individuals for more than 30 years.

Renowned in the Deaf community for his passion for Deaf History, John is a frequent contributor to BBC’s See Hear!, having presented the Specials commemorating the centenary of Action on Hearing Loss (formerly known as the Royal National Institute for Deaf People) and also the 220th anniversary of the UK’s oldest deaf school, the Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate.

As Senior Lecturer for Deaf Studies and BSL/English Interpreting at the University of Wolverhampton, from 1998 to his retirement in 2012, John taught Deaf History and Culture, in addition to other modules.

A Fellow of the RSA since 2005, John was awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to undertake a study tour of deaf archival centres and museums in Europe, the USA and Canada in the autumn of 2006.  John was bestowed with an MBE for his services to Higher Education and to the Deaf community in June 2008.


Peter W. JACKSON, CEO/Company SecretaryPeter pic
Peter has had a lifelong interest in both Deaf history and criminology.  He is the author of numerous Deaf history and Deaf crime books.  He has been involved with the British Deaf History Society since 1997 and has been the Chief Executive since 2007.   Since 2010 he has also been the President of Deaf History International.

Peter is also the current CEO of iBSL (Institute of British Sign Language), an academic awarding body for sign language and deafness related courses in the UK.


GJEaglingGeoffrey J. EAGLING, Treasurer
In his second stint as Treasurer, Geoffrey J Eagling, born and bred in the leafy Surrey, became deaf through measles at the age of 18 months old.  Educated at Peckham Park PHU, Ackmar Road Deaf School and Burwood Park School, he is currently working as a Draughtsman in the maritime division of civil engineering.

How did Geoffrey get interested in Deaf History?  His grandfather passed his family genealogical notes to Geoffrey and on one of the papers, he wrote ‘D&D’ beneath each great-grandparent on my paternal side.  This turned out to be an abbreviation for ‘deaf and dumb’.  His aunt told him that they met at a school in Brighton but Geoffrey had eventually discovered that his great-grandfather was educated at Margate while his great-grandmother attended Eastern Road School in Brighton.  Ever since, he still maintains an on-going interest on the history of Brighton Deaf & Dumb Institution (1841-1941).

In addition to contributions to Deaf History Journal, he is the author of publications, Ackmar Road 1898-1983: A history of a London School for the Deaf (1998); Sir Arthur Henderson Fairbairn, 1852-1915: Britain’s Deaf and Dumb Baronet (jointly with A. F. Dimmock, 2006) and Burwood Park School: A photographic record of the School Years, cricket and football line-ups: 1955-1996 (2010)

Geoffrey represented the GB athletics team participating the World Games for the Deaf twice – in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1969 and Malmo, Sweden in 1973.  In the final of the 400m Hurdles, Geoffrey raced with the world-class hurdler, Vyacheslav Skomorokhov who came 5th in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.


Melinda N. NAPIERBDHS Profile

She has always been interested in History, studying the subject at both ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level.  (Incidentally she was in the same class as the BDHS Chair, John Hay for 7 years!).  Now retired, her family regard Melinda as the official family historian and she has collected photos and items such as her deaf aunt’s Margate school hat (1920s). She has nearly completed writing a life story about her deaf mother, concentrating on the early years which included WWII.  The wealth of her mother’s photos of school and home life is amazing and she also has lots of her mother’s school magazines and items.  All her life she had been listening to her mother telling her school and home stories, as well as her grandfather’s, so she now knows them by heart!

She has also been researching her ancestry through the Ancestry website and visiting the National Archives at Kew.  She has always known of her Irish ancestry, through her maternal grandfather, but it was only recently that she discovered she also had Dutch ancestry, through her paternal grandmother, thanks to the Ancestry website when a second cousin contacted her!



Honorary President

Anthony J. BOYCE (2008 – present)Boyce
Tony was born deaf, graduated at Reading University with a B.Sc. degree in Pure and Applied Mathematics and Physics in 1961. He was employed as a mathematical/scientific research officer at the British Welding Research Station near Cambridge for 3 years.

He was appointed to the teaching staff of the Yorkshire Residential School for the Deaf, Doncaster in 1964. In 1968, he was awarded the qualified teacher of the deaf status by the Department of Science and Education.

He taught Mathematics at the American School for the Deaf, West Hartford, (1969 – 1970) and was a Mathematics lecturer at Gallaudet College, Washington DC (1970 – 1971).  He returned to Doncaster to continue teaching, and campaigned for more Deaf teachers.

In 1974, he gave a talk on Total Communication at the BDDA Congress at Ayr. He joined the National Study Group on Further and Higher Education for the Deaf (NSG) in 1975.  He was convenor of the Working Party on Deaf Teachers (1977 – 1980). He represented NSG on the setting up of CACDP and gave talks on behalf of NSG.

In 1979, he initiated Doncaster College for the Deaf and became Head of Applied Technology. He started Computer studies, Electronics, Information Technology, CAD and CAM.  He made a major contribution to training and educating students, resulting in HND/HNC courses.  The College was awarded Grade 1 status in 1994, the same year has he retired.

He is involved with the British Deaf History Society (BDHS) since 1993; secretary of BDHS (1995 – 1998); co-initiated the Deaf History Journal in April 1997 and was on its editorial board (1997 – 2008); organised Deaf History workshops and wrote books and articles on Deaf History; he was the Chair of BDHS (1998 – 2001).


Past Honorary President

Arthur F. DIMMOCK, MBE, D.Arts (2000 – 2007)AFD
The late Arthur Frederick Dimmock was the first-ever BDHS President, having been elected in 2000 at the BDHS AGM in Portsmouth where he lived for the later part of his life.  Affectionately known as AFD, he wrote extensively on deaf issues, particularly history, for several journals aimed at deaf communities, both at home and abroad.  He was also well-known for his monthly column Girdle Around the Earth, featured in British Deaf News from 1995 to 2006.

His publications pertaining to Deaf History include Sporting Heritage: A Record of the Activities of the Southern Deaf Sports Association since the founding year of 1947; Tommy: A Biography of the Distinguished Deaf Royal Painter, A. R. Thomson, 1894-1979 (1992); Cruel Legacy: Introduction to the Record of Deaf People in History (1993); Arthur James Wilson: 1858-1945 (1996); his own autobiography entitled Muted Passion: the Private & Public Career of a Deaf Optimist (1995); Deaf Mountaineering Club: its history and mountainlore (1998); Venerable Legacy: The Hand of Time, Saint Bede and the Anglo Celtic Contribution to Literary Numerical and Manual Language (1998); Sir Arthur Henderson Fairbairn, 1852-1915: Britain’s Deaf and Dumb Baronet (jointly with G. J. Eagling, 2006).

In 1992, the BDA Congress in Blackpool saw AFD being awarded the BDA Medal of Honour for his 50 years of service to the British deaf community.  1995 saw him awarded with an MBE for his services to deaf people and the RNID Deaf Impact Award for his journalistic contributions.  In 2000, an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts was bestowed to AFD from the University of Wolverhampton in recognition of his journalism and work on deaf issues.