The Signature Annual Awards 2018

The Signature Annual Awards are a cornerstone in our work to recognise people who are going above and beyond to improve access for deaf people. For the past nine years, our prestigious awards have been awarded to business leaders, community groups, volunteers, and teachers to name a few.

This year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Signature Annual Awards at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art on the stunning Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside. These were our biggest awards to date with over 200 nominations, 180 guests and over 3000 votes in our community spirit award.

This year’s awards weren’t just about what has been achieved so far, but how our nominees were leading, educating and inspiring to create a brighter future for others.

Awards shortlist

Excellent Teacher Award - Winner Emma Iliffe

For new or experienced teachers inspiring their students to become their best inside and outside of the classroom

Stephen Ellis-Menton

Stephen's approach to teaching is very much based upon his passion and enjoyment of interpreting and British Sign Language, which is shown by his fun and responsive lessons.

Andrew Belcher

Andrew has the unique ability to make what first seemed like a daunting challenge, seem not only achievable, but to give it a depth and perspective which makes BSL so engaging.

Jamie Ross

An excellent teacher who constantly receives positive feedback from his students, Jamie is both patient and great fun, and uses his life experiences to teach his learners about both BSL and deaf awareness.

Emma Iliffe

Committed to breaking down barriers, Emma inspires her learners to not only further develop their own use of BSL, but to explore their personal identities and to be confident in themselves.

Nathalie Koenig

Teaching BSL to staff at NDCS, Nathalie’s passion and enthusiasm is shown throughout the organisation and she genuinely cares about the success of everyone she teaches.

Alison Wherry-Alimo

A professional yet friendly teacher who makes everyone feel comfortable in her lessons, Alison goes above and beyond for her students and has been a huge source of encouragement to all.

Outstanding Student Award - Winner Mark Stock

For students using their new skills and knowledge to make a difference to the future

Lucy Sharp

As well as representing Great Britain in the 2017 Deaflympics, Lucy learns British Sign Language alongside her Mum and is very much a natural signer.

Gabrielle Flockton

As well as being committed to studying British Sign Language, Gabrielle is heavily involved with extra activities including Signing Carols, BSL Sign Bar and fundraising for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

Paul Dowling

After initially struggling with his self confidence and understanding, Paul has progressed significantly and his work is now used as an example for other students to learn from.

Maureen Hurrell

Despite an injury which changed her life dramatically, Maureen is passionate about supporting Deaf and hard of hearing people, and even volunteers for Action on Hearing Loss as a be-friender.

Mark Stock

In addition to being a committed student, Mark has arranged for many of his colleagues to learn some BSL and have deaf awareness training, as well as organising a signing choir to help raise the importance of sign language.

Millie Malone

Millie was inspired to learn BSL after meeting a close friend who is Deaf. She has also undertaken an Extended Project Qualification, investigating the difficulties patients who are Deaf face within the NHS. Millie hopes to become a hearing-signing doctor in the future

Enriching Education Award - Winner Cornwall College

This award recognises Signature centres and individuals that have shown outstanding dedication to enhancing the student experience and who genuinely care about the achievements of their students and teachers.

Bungay High School

With a positive can do attitude and being very open to change, this mainstream school has fully embraced having a Deaf pupil who uses British Sign Language full time

Cornwall College (Jackie Bryant and Manda Lambert)

Passionate advocates for British Sign Language, Jackie and Manda deliver lessons in an engaging way and are very well respected by their learners and the local community.

Sunshine Sign (Sarah Prudhoe)

Sarah has been an amazing advocate for British Sign Language at Sunshine Sign. She has a passion for the language and the ability to make learning a truly fantastic experience.

City Lit Deaf English and Maths team

A student community in its own right, the team are dedicated to delivering projects aimed at enabling students to network and make new friends, whilst improving their maths and English skills.

Support Champion Award - Winner Caroline Ryan

For teaching assistants, CSW and interpreters who are helping their students to achieve long term success

Caroline Ryan

As an interpreter, Caroline has worked tirelessly to make theatre more accessible for Deaf audiences, and has paved the way for integrated BSL theatre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Flora Kerr

Working for the rights, dignity and freedom of choice of Glasgow’s under-served Deaf community, Flora has worked as a Senior Support Worker for over 16 years.

Paul Watson

Paul has dedicated 26 years of his life to teaching, and is dedicated to providing his students with the highest level of support and the best chance of researching their potential.

Mandy Davison

As a higher level teaching assistant, Mandy organises and runs signing classes for parents, a signing choir in school, and a deaf club. She is a pillar of support to the community she serves.

Helen Andrews

Working and volunteering with the deaf community since 2007, Helen is constantly active in the Deaf community, and also runs a signing choir called BSL For You.

Lee Broughton, Emma Robertson, Yvonne McCourt, Amy Callan & Joanne Buck (MeSign Communication Support Workers)

This multi skilled team of CSW’s are a credit to MeSign and have helped guide many people through apprenticeships, employment, and even through school.

Workplace Commitment Award - Winner ITV Signpost

For organisations who have changed the way they work to improve access for employees and customers

Macmillan Cancer Support

Committed to making sure that all of their support and materials are accessible by all, Macmillan Cancer Support are continuously producing content in British Sign Language.


As part of an initiative to improve communication between staff and deaf customers, Specsavers employees in several Scottish stores have completed a course in British Sign Language.

Bluebell Ward – Springfield Hospital

Bluebell Ward is committed to providing excellent services to their underserviced deaf community, using specialist Deaf healthcare professionals.

Healthwatch Dudley

As a result of listening to deaf people and the communication barriers they often face, Healthwatch Dudley has supported local organisations to make significant changes to healthcare services, by facilitating important conversations and discovering creative solutions.

Smethwick Fire Station – Blue Watch

Smethwick Fire Station have created a video in British Sign Language, which demonstrates the support they can offer to Deaf and hard of hearing people within their community.

ITV SignPost

A centre of excellence for British Sign Language, ITV SignPost has served the deaf community for 18 years and has now grown to become a production house for original content.

Professional Contribution Award - Winner Janice Crossland-Jones

For ambassadors of Signature, and for those who are committed to making sure our qualifications are delivered both effectively and relevantly. Whether they are an assessor, a consultant an expert, or a prominent representative of Signature, we want to celebrate their dedication and hard work.

Michelle Teasdale

Michelle has spent her entire life promoting deaf awareness, and has worked selflessly to offer services to hearing and Deaf people, enabling them to lead successful professional careers.

Gaye Hampton

Gaye has used her skills and expertise to assist with the development of qualifications, and to support younger professionals who are just starting out in the sector.

Janice Crossland-Jones

As a natural leader, teacher and ambassador, Janice is well known for the level of support, passion and understanding she gives to each and every one of her students.

Jeanette Campbell-Turner

Jeanette is 100% enthusiastic about British Sign Language and the deaf community; she exudes passion and commitment in the way she teaches and the quality of her lessons.

Leadership Award - Winner Ellie Parfitt (deafie blogger)

For individuals who are leading by example and promoting positive change for the future. This could be a future leader who uses their passion to pave the way forward, or perhaps someone who has changed the way in which they work to support their employees and/or needs of their business.

Sadia Grabham

Sadia is a pioneer for British Sign Language, and following her own personal struggles, she set up her own training business in order to continue the provision of BSL courses in Manchester.

Alex Duguid

A strong advocate for BSL, Alex is passionate about both promoting and protecting the language. He actively leads the way in terms of teaching his colleagues BSL and about deaf culture.

Charmaine Wombwell

A talented theatre maker and musician, Charmaine is leading the way in terms of giving deaf audiences an equal experience and by capturing emotion using BSL within her performances.

Ellie Parfitt (Deafie Blogger)

Using her hugely successful blog as a platform, Ellie can be described as a future leader due to her commitment to making positive change and the passion she has to inspire the next generation.

Campaign for the Future Award - Winner Transport for London (TFL)

For outstanding organisations, groups or individuals who have created campaigns or projects which have increased deaf awareness, promoted inclusivity, broken down barriers, or paved the way for positive change in the future.

Bhulla Beghal (Birmingham Media)

'Bhulla, of Birmingham Media, has supported Deaf awareness by producing films with local and national organisations to promote British Sign Language and the Deaf community.

Transport for London (TFL)

As well as making vast improvements in accessibility for customers, TFL were heavily involved in Deaf Awareness week where they organised BSL interpreted Art on the Underground tours.

Dr. Dawn Rimmer

Dawn has lead her own projects and activities in schools; she offers students the opportunity to gain an introduction to British Sign Language, and an insight into deaf awareness and accessibility issues.

Catelyn Grundy (Speak for Sign)

Catelyn began ‘Speak for Sign’ which aims to campaign for at least one member of management within the workplace to be able to understand and undertake at least a basic conversation in BSL.

Community Spirit Award - Winner Lily Conlan

For community groups and individuals who are making their communities a better place to be today and tomorrow. Whether they contribute to charity fundraising, raise deaf awareness, or inspire others using their own experiences; this award recognises your local heroes.


fingersmiths is a physical theatre company performing plays in BSL and spoken or written English which tour nationally. As well as engaging both Deaf and hearing audiences, fingersmiths provide a range training opportunities across the mainstream theatre sector.

Southend High School for Girls

The mainstream school has embraced having two Deaf students by offering taster BSL sessions, specialist assemblies, deaf awareness and overall creating a fully inclusive environment.

Lily Conlan

Lily uses her own experiences and determination to fundraise and increase deaf awareness in her community. She is also the inspiration for her Mum’s organisation ‘Hear Now and Always’

Vision Signing Choir

Vision Signing Choir learn and perform songs with the aim of increasing awareness of British Sign Language (BSL), and raising money for local charities.

Signature Lifetime Achievement Award - Winner Craig Crowley MBE

For one special person who has dedicated their entire lifetime or career to lessen the issues facing deaf people

The winner of the Signature Lifetime Achievement Award will be announced at the awards ceremony.

This award is for one special person who has dedicated their entire lifetime or career to lessen the issues facing deaf people.

Previous Winners

Last year we celebrated... the superstars.

The Award recipients were:


The future of the Signature Annual Awards

15th Mar 2019, 2:18pm

For the foreseeable future, we will no longer host the Signature Annual Awards.

Hosting the awards for ten years has been a real achievement, and we would like to thank everyone who has been involved.

We are now busy planning what’s next for Signature; keep an eye on our website and social media channels for updates.

You can view the full news article in relation to the Signature Annual Awards here:

We’re now in the process of updating the Signature Awards website to showcase the achievements from the last ten years. You will be able to view photographs, interviews, and the complete list of previous winners.

Once again, thank you all for the last ten years, and we look forward to see what the future holds. 

Full story »

Signature Annual Awards 2018 - Winners

13th Nov 2018, 12:51pm

On Friday 9th November, we had the pleasure of hosting the tenth anniversary of The Signature Annual Awards. Bringing the awards back to the North East where Signature is based, The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art on the banks of the river Tyne was the perfect venue for such a prestigious occasion.

We welcomed award winning presenter and journalist Pip Tomson as host, with myself and Signature Trustees having the honour of presenting the awards to our worthy winners. In addition to the wonderful food and fantastic atmosphere, it was a real pleasure to welcome friends of Signature, to help us celebrate the tenth Signature Annual Awards in style.

It was incredible to get a glimpse into the lives of our finalists, and to celebrate the amazing work they continue to do. With the theme of this years awards being ‘Brighter Futures’, this allowed us to celebrate not only our finalists, but also Signature’s own journey. We are committed to looking to the future, and I am excited to expand upon everything we have already achieved.

Ten years of The Signature Annual Awards is a real triumph. Who would have thought in 2009 that we would have had the ability to recognise so many amazing people, and to unearth the untold stories of commitment which underpins everything the awards stands for. I am honoured to have been involved with The Signature Annual Awards over the past ten years, and I’m eager to see what the future holds for Signature.

The Signature Annual Awards 2018 – Winners

Excellent Teacher award

Emma Iliffe

Outstanding Student award

Mark Stock

Enriching Education award

Cornwall College (Jack Bryant and Manda Lambert)

Support Champion award

Caroline Ryan

Workplace Commitment award

ITV SignPost

Professional Contribution award

Janice Crossland – Jones

Campaign for the Future award

Transport for London (TFL)

Leadership award

Ellie Parfitt (Deafie Blogger)

Community Spirit Award

Lily Conlan

Signature Lifetime Achievement Award

Craig Crowley MBE 

Full story »

Contact us

If you have any questions about the Signature Annual Awards please contact us we will be happy to help.

For press please contact Stephanie Ayre: