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My Deaf Awareness Story

My Deaf Awareness Story

We are always excited to discover inspiring stories involving young individuals! This blog post is from Lily, a recent Achievement Award winner and is in support of Deaf Awareness Week.

About Me

My name is Lily Donovan and I am 19 years old.

Lily's cochlear implant and hearing aid over her left ear.I was born Deaf and at the age of 4 I had cochlear implant fitted on my left hand side. As well as the cochlear implant I use a hearing aid to help me hear, communicate, listen to music and a variety of sounds. BSL (British Sign Language) is my first language, with spoken English my second language as I have some speech and can lip read.

I have found it difficult to make new friends as communicating with hearing people can be challenging for me, but I am a happy and confident person and will always try to express myself. I have now made two new friends who are both hearing people and together they are learning sign language. BSL is a beautiful language and it is wonderful to use sign language to communicate with them.

What I am Doing

I have been working at a Dog Grooming parlour in Essex for 4 years, mainly as a Saturday girl but work extra days when on school holidays. Whilst working at the salon I have been completing my Dog Grooming qualifications at Capel Manor College. My current aim and hope is to work there after I qualify as this will improve my knowledge and experience.

Lily, with dyed light blue hair, cuddling a dog

While I am at college, I have a Communication Support Worker (CSW) with me in every lesson who interprets from English to BSL and I enjoy communicating with her.

My Journey in Education with my Hearing Impairment

My journey in education started at a school where they had a specialist provision for Deaf children. I then went to a school for Deaf children where BSL is the first language. When heading to a mainstream college at Capel Manor, I embarked on my Dog Grooming training. I had to adapt to coming from a Deaf school where BSL was the main language to one where spoken English was the norm.

But I wanted to break down barriers and teach other people, students and staff a little bit about Deaf culture and BSL. I have achieved this by increasing the visibility of challenges the Deaf community face and educated others on how they can support them. The Deaf community includes people who are hard of hearing, late-deafened, deafblind and deafdisabled and more. These experiences are not all the same.

My Achievement Award

Lily holding her Achievement Award medallion at a Jack Petchey Foundation celebration event

I was extremely pleased and honoured to be awarded the Jack Petchey Achievement Award this year. I received the award because of my outstanding contributions to raising Deaf awareness. I did this through a BSL workshop. In the workshop I taught the group facial expressions, lip patterns, body language and BSL.

With the award money I took my peers to Hertfordshire Zoo. I was fortunate enough to have a wild wolf experience where I fed the wolves Romy and Inge (see images).

Two wolves, Romy and Inge, at Hertfordshire ZooLily feeding one of the wolves at Hertfordshire Zoo

Thanks to my Dog Grooming course my love for wolves has evolved. I have always been fascinated with Huskies and how similar they are to wolves. Going forward in life I am contemplating whether I can set up my own Dog Grooming business.

If you interested in sharing your Achievement Award story, send an email to

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