Tony Hawkins has always been a member of the Nottingham Deaf Society (NDS) and the deaf community which he calls his second home.
For several years Tony has been a long-standing volunteer. He was the leader in charge of the Nottingham Deaf Youth Club, a member of various committees, and he helped establish new support networks for individuals in the deaf community along with numerous projects and activities of the NDS. He has been an active member of the Deaf community in Nottingham.
Before the coronavirus pandemic started, Tony was volunteering as a befriender. He got to know and supported the needs of fellow deaf people in his community by visiting them in their homes, helping individuals with specific needs. He helped the deaf who were vulnerable and unable to attend the Deaf Society. When the pandemic started, many deaf people suddenly found themselves isolated at home and unable to see friends or have access to information in their first language, British Sign Language (BSL).
He supported those who were experiencing social isolation, poor mental health, learning difficulties, disabilities, and people living with dementia. In response to his activities, Tony said, “I wanted to make sure deaf people had regular face-to-face contact. I made weekly doorstep visits, identifying additional needs and worked hard to ensure those needs were met.”
He worked tirelessly to reduce loneliness and promote well-being for many of the deaf by teaching them how to use different types of technology, such as how to keep in contact with their family and friends by using video calls. He also supported the NDS with the implementation of a tablet (iPad) loan scheme for socially isolated deaf people across Nottinghamshire. He helped those who had no access to technology. Even a 90-year-old deaf man, after just a few weeks, learned how to keep in contact with friends.
Tony is an active member of the Deaf Church online (Zoom) which is headed by Pastor George Hamilton, so he is fully aware of the needs of the deaf to have access to the Word of God in their first language. At the beginning of the pandemic, when all churches were closed, he raised the concern for the need for deaf people to access church services.
Dan Dachin, the pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Nottingham, worked to provide video recordings of sermons to the Zoom church for the deaf. This was especially helpful for those who were recently baptized. However, several problems with the videos developed. To alleviate this, Pastor Hamilton worked non-stop with Tony to ensure that there is a weekly service for deaf people. Tony also supports Rev. Wendy Murphy of St Mark’s Deaf Church to provide online services through NDS YouTube providing signed performances of hymns in BSL.
As a trained volunteer for Macmillan and a self-help group, Tony helped to set up and host the Deaf Men’s Cancer Support Group. He worked with other trained volunteers to provide emotional support to deaf men experiencing cancer.
After reviewing this catalogue of amazing work that Tony Hawkins has undertaken, the Nottingham Deaf Society (NDS) nominated him for the Heroes Awards for all his selfless work in his community. Three names went forward, and we were all so proud and pleased when his name was called as the winner of this award. When he won Tony stated, “It is an honour to win this Heroes Award as a deaf person in recognition of the work done for the deaf community.”