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Lottery win for city school means recent history can be preserved

Lottery win for city school means recent history can be preserved

One of the city’s most historic schools has been awarded National Lottery money to further its work in preserving the history and heritage of deaf people in Derby.

The Royal School for the Deaf Derby has been awarded £9,875 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help digitise a series of video films so they can be shared with pupils now and in the future.

The funding will also allow the school to invite members of the deaf community to regular coffee mornings or afternoon teas where they can watch the old films and share their memories with pupils.

It is the second time the school, based in Ashbourne Road, has been awarded a HLF grant. The first was in 2018, when the school was celebrating its 125th birthday, and was used to focus on the heritage of the school when it was based in Friar Gate.

The school moved to its current site in 1973 and the new funding will allow for the school’s more recent history to be formally documented for future generations of deaf children.

Head teacher Helen Shepherd said:

“Thanks to the original grant we were able to talk with elderly people who attended the school at the old site and we ran workshops with them and our pupils.

“This was extremely successful and greatly appreciated by the local deaf community but there were many people who had attended the school on its current site who also have valuable memories, information and artifacts to share.

“We have a whole video library of performances by deaf children when they were in plays or presentations during the 1980s and 1990s and it will be marvellous to get them out of the storage boxes, catalogue them, digitise and share them.

“We can create a more formal documentation of the life of deaf young people at the school and connect these older generations with our current pupils, so they can mix and communicate.”

Helen explained that many deaf people became isolated during the pandemic when it was hard to see people face to face, difficult to use sign language effectively online and impossible to lip read due to masks.

She hopes the heritage sessions will benefit the deaf community as well as the students at the school and that at the end of the project gatherings will continue to be staged.

She added:

“Eventually I would like to develop a book café to support deaf people who have left school which will help to develop their literacy and love of reading.

“Deaf people and literature has really developed over the last 20 years and this should be celebrated, expanded and shared.

“It is so important that we capture the stories that the deaf community have to share while we can, so that future generations of deaf children can embrace their own history, culture, language and identity.”

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