East Markham WI

by | 10 October 2023 | Retford, Social Group, WI

It was another full house at the August meeting of East Markham WI as members and visitors gathered to welcome Paul Whittaker OBE, ‘The Deaf Singer’.

Paul was born deaf and told of his and his family’s struggles to obtain a firm diagnosis and help. He learned to lipread and to sign. Music played a large part in his early life and, having learned to play the piano and organ, he was regularly asked to play church organs (which, he discovered, he could be paid for!).

Music continued to play a large part in his adult life and he obtained a music degree from Wadham College Oxford and Post Graduate Diplomas from the Royal Northern College of Music. He founded the charity ‘Music and the Deaf’, to help deaf people enjoy music, which he ran for 27 years. In 2007 he was awarded an OBE for his services to music.

He loves musical theatre and became the first person to sign a performance of a West End Musical, which he continued to do for some time, including Les Miserablés and Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat. He has also signed for Opera North, the Sixteen choir and in 2010 he gave the first ever signed BBC Prom.

Paul told many amusing anecdotes of his encounters with the great and the good and treated members to signed versions of some well-known songs. Audience participation caused much hilarity as Paul led members and visitors in signing a very simple rhyming song. This was a most enjoyable, informative, entertaining and inspiring talk, by an exceptional motivational speaker. Past President Jenny gave a moving vote of thanks to Paul and his signing interpreter.

In September members were asked to ‘Mind their Motoring Manners’ by ‘The Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce’, aka Paula Cornwell. A report on this talk next month. On 17th October member Clare Sobieraj will tell of her ‘Journey from Nursing to Reiki Master’.

New members and women visitors are welcome to monthly meetings. The visitor fee is £5.00 for a maximum of three visits. The annual membership fee is £46.00 with pro-rata rates for those joining during the year and the visitor fee refunded.

Why not consider becoming a member and have access to member-only events? For more information contact either the Secretary on 07971 291883 or Membership on 01777 871567.