Meet our Board of Directors.
We’re a talented group of individuals interested in art, cinematography, history, and everything in between.
Melinda Napier, B.A., M.A., Cert Ed.
Melinda was appointed Chair of the BDHS at the 2021 Annual General Meeting. 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 previous BDHS Chair, John Hay for 7 years!). She is also one of three editors of the Deaf History Journal.
She is third generation of a large deaf family. Educated at Frank Barnes School 1952-1954, Hurtwood School 1954-1961 and Mary Hare Grammar School 1961-1968. She gained her B.A. degree from the Open University, M.A. from the University of Durham and Cert Ed. from the University of Nottingham. Now retired from her post as Head of Communication and Training at the City Lit, London, her family regard Melinda as the official family historian and she has collected photos and items such as her deaf aunt’s RSDDC, Margate cloche hat (1920s) and great aunt’s artwork.
She wrote a life story about her deaf mother entitled “My Younger Days”, 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 deaf grandfather’s, so she now knows them by heart! She is now researching and writing a biography and photographic record of her deaf Great Aunt Isabel MacDonald nee Drake 1890-1990.
She is also the author of The History of the National Deaf Club 1906-2000 and A Deaf History in 50 Objects.
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!
Born in London, Diane Webb attended the Mill Hall Oral School for the Deaf in West Sussex between 1952 and 1965. At 17 years of age, she was apprenticed as a Graphic Artist for Chamberlain Studios in Chancery Lane, London.
After taking a career break to raise a family, Diane studied on a part time basis at Havering College, graduating as a teacher in 1990. In addition to teaching and assessing BSL for adult learners, between 1993 and 2007, she worked with the Early Years peripatetic team in the London Borough of Newham in East London.
Richard J Goulden, B.A., Dip.Lib.
Born in Southborough (near Tunbridge Wells) in 1945, I was in Singapore from 1950 to 1953 and went to my ﬁrst proper school, Hamilton Lodge School, in 1954 and then from 1962 at Eastbourne College; entered Sussex University in Brighton in 1964 and then was at University College, London, in 1967. In 1970 I was employed at the Public Record Ofﬁce as an archivist and then in the British Library in 1977 as a cataloguer in the Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) project, retiring in 2005 as the head of the British Library’s C19th British Books department (which covers the period 1801-1914).
What am I? Archivist, librarian, bookseller, bibliographer, genealogist, archaeologist, book collector and author with these books A biographical dictionary of those engaged in the Kent book trade, 1750-1900; Kent town guides, 1763-1900; two books on the Faversham and Sittingbourne book trades; The ornamental stock of Henry Woodfall; Newhaven and Seaford coastal fortiﬁcations and The war-time letters of Lieut. R. R. Goulden, 1915-1916 as well as articles in the Dictionary of National Biography and in various journals such as The book collector and the British Library’s Factotum.
I held various posts in the Sixty-Six Club such as being its Appeals director, Vice-chairman, archivist and trustee; and also was chairman of the trustees for the Sixty-Six Club Trust Fund. I was the Secretary of the Spurs Club (and my wife Caroline was its Treasurer for sixteen years), later becoming its archivist. Both the Sixty-Six Club and the Spurs Club papers were catalogued by me and these club papers are now held in the British Deaf History’s national archives. I also catalogued the British Deaf Association’s papers (covering its beginnings to when Elizabeth Wincott left the BDA) and these papers are now in the London Metropolitan Archives.
I became a British Deaf History Society trustee in 2016, having been a member for several years and now serve on the acquisitions sub-committee.
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.
Ian D Depledge
Member of the BDHS since 1998 and elected to the BDHS Board of Trustees in 2017.
Deaf since birth, Ian attended two schools for the deaf – Mill Hall School (1959-1967) and Mary Hare Grammar School (1967-1974).
After completing his education, Ian worked at Harrods for one year, and then at Lloyds Bank as IT systems developer for 17 years. After leaving the bank in 1993 he decided to pursue a career working in the Deaf Community, and worked with the London Deaf Access Project at British Deaf Association – BDA (1994-1996), before joining the Deaf Services team at Greenwich Borough Council (1997-2000) and then at Bedfordshire County Council (2000-2004). In 2004 he returned to the BDA where he worked in various roles (including Archives Officer) until 2009, when he went to work in HR administration at an interpreting agency till 2012.
Ian also has carried out a number of roles on a voluntary basis over the years. He was on the management committee of the Sixty-Six Club for some years, eventually becoming a Trustee, and also a Vice President. He was also a Trustee of the Sixty-Six Club Trust Fund, 2000-2006. He joined the BDA as a member in 1974 and was elected in 1991 to the BDA Executive Council (later renamed as Board of Trustees) and served until 1994. It was through these roles that he has acquired a good understanding of the responsibilities of a trustee under charity law.
History was his favourite subject at school and has acquired a keen interest in Deaf history. He was a co-author / editor of the book ‘A Pictorial History of the British Deaf Association 1890-2015’, for which he received BDHS’s Arthur Dimmock Award for a significant contribution to Deaf Literature in 2016. He is also an experienced genealogist, having researched family history in England & Wales, Scotland, Ireland and many other countries abroad.
Ian currently lives near Kingston-upon-Thames.
Benjamin E. Bowen
Appointed as a Trustee at the COVID-delayed 2020 AGM held in February 2021, Ben possesses a Physics degree and is currently employed as a Communities Engagement Officer for a charity in Lancashire where he lives in Bamber Bridge, near Preston. He has a lifelong interest in history and became interested in deaf history when he was about 23 years old, since he started wondering what life was like for a deaf person during the Colonial or Victorian times, for example. During the sourse of some research, he discovered BDHS..
He was treasurer for the European Deaf Students’ Union from 2017-2019 and was responsible for the financial management of their General Assembly held in Prague in 2019. He has financial IT skills. Originally, Ben applied to an appeal by the BDHS in early 2020 for anyone willing to be the BDHS Treasurer and after a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic he has now taken over as Treasurer from Geoffrey Eagling and commences his duties on 1st April 2022.
He was treasurer for the European Deaf Students’ Union from 2017-2019 and was responsible for the financial management of their General Assembly held in Prague in 2019. He has financial IT skills. Originally, Ben applied to an appeal by the BDHS in early 2020 for anyone willing to be the BDHS Treasurer but the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from learning from the current BDHS Treasurer, Geoffrey Eagling. Ben has agreed to be a Trustee Director for the time being whilst he learns to understand how the BDHS functions and will hopefully be appointed as BDHS Treasurer in the near future.
Having just finished 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 retired after a career as a Draughtsman in the maritime division of civil engineering company.
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.
Catherine (Caffy) Nassimi-Green
Appointed as a Trustee at the COVID-delayed 2020 AGM held in February 2021, Caffy is a mother of two Deaf daughters and lives in Stockport, Greater Manchester. She has had a lifelong engagement with different Deaf charities, both as a volunteer and as an employee. She was recently Project Youth Worker for the joint Manchester Deaf Centre/BDHS Milan to Millennium Project funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund’s Young Roots grant and has a passionate interest in Deaf History. Caffy also comes from long line of deaf generations in her family (6 generations).
She has worked as a Family Sign Language Tutor with the NDCS and has also had a variety of teaching roles linked to Deaf Awareness, BSL-Assessor and is now employed as Project Link Worker for Deaf and HOH people also a Well-being Officer with deaf people in Lancashire.