Deaf Direct Trustee receives British Empire Medal
By Robin Caley, Chair
Philip Gerrard (CEO) and I were invited to represent Deaf Direct at the award ceremony where Donna Brayley-Willmetts, DD Trustee, received the British Empire Medal (BEM). Donna received a British Empire Medal for services to higher education. Vicki Carrabin, Communication Manager, was also present at the award ceremony, wearing her interpreter’s hat!
The ceremony was held in the Hospitality Suite at Muirhead Tower, Birmingham University. This Suite is situated on the 12th floor, so we had wonderful views over Birmingham. Along with family and friends, there were a number of Donna’s colleagues present.
Professor Saul Becker, Head of College of Social Sciences, opened the formal ceremony by praising the work of Donna over the past 29 years. Donna’s voluntary work at DD was mentioned, and then Saul introduced Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of West Midlands, Paul Sabapathy CBE who was presenting the award on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. Paul was dressed in full ceremonial uniform including a sword.
We were then given a fascinating insight into the work and history of Lord Lieutenants. Lord Lieutenant Paul Sabapathy CBE was born in Mumbai, and he announced he is the first person who did not have white skin to become a Lord Lieutenant in the UK. Paul then talked about Donna, but emphasised that apart from Donna’s work at the University, what will have aided her nomination is the voluntary work at DD ‘going that extra mile’. A very nervous, but happy Donna, then received her medal and gave a lovely speech.
A great buffet lunch with champagne then followed and the Lord Lieutenant mixed freely; a very charming man. Lord Lieutenant Paul kept emphasising that DD need to ‘blow our own trumpet’ about the great work we do, nominate people for awards, and nominate DD for a Queens Award, so we gain more national recognition. Philip was asking lots of questions and asked Paul how he was chosen as Lord Lieutenant? We all laughed when we thought… Philip, the first Deaf Lord Lieutenant!
Two hours just flew by, but Philip, Vicki and I were delighted that we had been given the opportunity to share Donna’s special day. We look forward to reading Donna’s account when she goes to Buckingham Palace for a Garden Party in 2015. PS we learnt that Donna’s work is to make sure all the University facilities are running smoothly. So we now know who to contact the next time the toilets are blocked at DD!
|Left to right: Lord Lieutenant Paul Sabapathy CBE, Donna Brayley-Willmetts BEM, Robin Caley, Vicki Carrabin and Philip Gerrard|