Diane was born during the last war near the centre of Liverpool.Her parents had to flee their home when they found her one morning aged 1 year, fast asleep in a cot covered with broken window glass from a stray bomb that hit the ground nearby ! For many years, they believed her deafness was caused by this bomb blast, UNTIL some years later her sister was born with partially hearing.
Her family moved to the outskirts of Liverpool where it was safer, and as she was falling behind at school due to lack of hearing, she was sent to the Birkdale School for deaf children near Southport, which was not a pleasant place in those days, but that is how things were then.
After 1 year, she passed the exam for the Mary Hare Grammar school, and never will she forget her first impressions. She was overawed with the beautiful building, the small classes, the gentle rolling grounds which the sun gracefully scanned every afternoon, the cricket, the tennis, and the way the food was served in large vegetable dishes which were passed down the table.
She left aged 17yrs, and returned to red brick Liverpool, but could not settle there and had no real close friends, so went to live in Oxford for a while, courtesy of Angela Terry’s parents who gave her a room as Angela had been a close school friend.
One year later, she attended the OLD PUPILS’ REUNION at the school, and there met Andrew Kenyon. They were married 2 years later, settled in Leicester and are still married!
She took a course in fashion modelling, run by a beautiful woman and her equally beautiful daughter, became one of London’s top ten catwalk models, modelling for the House of Dior , Fortnum and Mason, Saks of Piccadilly, and modelled clothes too for Yves St Laurent whom she met several times. When her first child was born she modelled for another year, and then stopped.
It was just before she had her first daughter, that the utterly amazing Denis Uttley came into their lives. They were living in a maisonette in Kent, and started a discussion group of deaf friends and acquaintances and met regularly at the RNID in London. Amongst its members were Christine Arnold, Angela Terry, Roba and George Drewry, Alison Heath, and many others. It was enjoyable, but she thinks some of them felt that now they operated in a hearing world of work, family, nursery, doctors etc. and some had hearing children,that they were remaining isolated from hearing people. They had had a good education, were as intelligent, gifted, and as human as the other people they mixed with in their everyday lives, yet they remained detached from any real communication, were not realising our true potential in many fields, and were often regarded of as second class citizens.
Christine Arnold introduced Denis Uttley to their group. (It was named Breakthrough).He was a teacher of deaf children and felt deaf adults were not given the recognition they deserved. Out of this meeting, grew a whole network of groups and projects across the country, conceived and run by deaf people, with an emphasis on integration, and the teaching and learning of behaviours of both deaf and hearing people. This allowed deaf people to contribute, reach their potential, and show their outstanding abilities.
Andrew and Diane retired from Breakthrough many years ago now. It is now called Deaf Plus. She did run awareness courses for a few years after, and to this day, give talks on hearing loss, behaviours that allow deaf people access to life, and gives separate talks on being a fashion model in the early ‘60’s.
Dr. King Jordan, the seventh president of Gallaudet University, Washington DC,USA 1988-2006, quoted Frederick Schreibert, saying, "Deaf people can do anything hearing people can, except hear," which became the motto of the deaf community.
“Whilst Dr Vinton Cerf is the Honorary President of Deafax, he and his wife, Sigrid want to support the important work of Deaf Aspirations”- see their interest in Deafness in the above Henley Standard article.
Please make a donation to Deaf Aspirations. We really do appreciate all the support we can get. We want to raise £55K over the next year.