MBE for champion of deaf people

HONOURED -- Les Townend
HONOURED -- Les Townend
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A DEAF man from Hucknall, who is dedicated to helping those who cannot hear, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Les Townend (pictured) is a communication support worker for the Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust organisation.

He is profoundly deaf and works in the National High Secure Deaf Service (NHSDS) based at Rampton Hospital — a secure unit for psychiatric patients near Retford. He has been part of the specialist team for eight years.

In his role, Les (63) helps bridge the communication gap between deaf patients and hearing staff by translating sign language into English.

He also works with hearing staff to transform written and promotional items into visual materials.

On receiving confirmation of the MBE, Les said: “I am really shocked to receive this award. I just can’t believe it.

“When I got the letter, my wife and I struggled to understand what it all meant at first because English isn’t our first language (British Sign Language is).

“Once it became clear, I was of course really pleased and happy to accept the invitation to meet the Queen. I feel quite emotional about the whole thing.”

Les, who played cricket for Hucknall for three seasons, will be presented with the MBE alongside other recipients at a royal garden party later in the year.

He says he is proud to be deaf and works hard to promote a positive image of the deaf community, including teaching deaf awareness to all members of staff at Rampton.

Professor Mike Cooke, chief executive of Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust, said: “I am delighted for Les.

“He truly deserves this recognition for his hard work and dedication to our deaf patients and positive promotion of the deaf community. He is an asset to the Trust. Many congratulations.”

Before joining Rampton, Les worked for ten years in Leeds as a deaf instructor in mainstream schools.

He helped families and children aged up to 16.

He then moved to the Royal School for the Deaf in Derby where he worked for ten years in varying roles, including supporting pupils in maths and science lessons and helping with sports coaching.

Les is currently treasurer for the Nottingham Deaf Community Club, a post he has held for the last three years.