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Teacher, footballer and Olympic torchbearer honoured by Deaf community

Singer Daniel O’Donnell was on hand to present the 2013 Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards yesterday.

Daniel O'Donnell and Stuart Foy, recipient of the Sports Award.
Daniel O'Donnell and Stuart Foy, recipient of the Sports Award.
Image: Conor McCabe Photography

A TEACHER, A successful businessman and the most capped football player in Irish history were honoured at a special awards ceremony yesterday to mark the achievements of those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Members of the public nominated their heroes to be recognised with a 2013 Hidden Hearing Heroes Award because of their significant contributions to Irish society, their communities, workplaces, families or sport.

Maura Buckley, the first Deaf woman to become a qualified teacher, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award by singer Daniel O’Donnell. A pioneer of the Irish Deaf Community, Buckley has been teaching 32 years and is a founding member of Deaf Action Group (the forerunner to the Irish Deaf Society). She went on to become the first Deaf vice-principal at St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls.

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Maura Buckley with Daniel O’Donnell. (Image: Mark Stedman)

Deaflympian football player Stuart Foy, a native of Glasnevin, was the recipient of the Sportsperson Award. The 40-year-old, now a legend in the Deaf sporting world, was the first Irish schoolboy to participate at the World Games for the Deaf in 1989.

A recent exhibition featuring some of the biggest names in Irish music, media, arts, sport and entertainment using Irish Sign Language (ISL) was honoured with the Social Contribution Award. The ‘Signs of Life’ team hoped their exhibition would encourage greater public awareness and appreciation of ISL, the first language of the Deaf community.

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Daniel O’Donnell with the ‘Sign of Life’ team. From left, Tracey Treanor, Maggie Owens and Johnny Corcoran. (Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

The workplace award went to Belfast man Denis Broderick who overcame his hearing loss to forge a successful career in business. Among his many roles were President of the Hotel, Catering and International Management Association and Chairman of the Board of Governors of St Patrick’s College, Maghera. His charity work also led to his nomination as a Torchbearer for the London Olympics last year.

Sisters Abigail and Anna Cahill from Killarney were described as “an inspiration to their family and everyone they meet” as they took the Family Award. Both women provide “outstanding support” to their younger brother Patrick who is a special needs child. Abigail took last year out of college to help her parents but she will return next month to study Special Needs. Anna currently works in St Joseph’s Home for the Deaf and Blind as a care worker.

The sixth and final award was presented to 18-year-old Róisín Ormond from Cork who is a hard-working Junior Leader with the Cork Deaf Association’s Smiley Children’s Club and Cool Youth Club. A positive role for young people, Róisín has worked to develop her communication skills by learning ISL and shows great awareness of Deaf issues.

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The winners. (Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

Congratulating the winners, O’Donnell said they were “true examples of real heroes in Irish society”.

“Each person has shown great determination to reach their goals and they have proven that all obstacles can be overcome. Their achievements and successes deserve to be honoured and brought to the attention of the Irish public.”

“All of the winners demonstrated that being Deaf or hard of hearing does not have to hold you back in life,” added Stephen Leddy, managing director at Hidden Hearing.

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