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PRESS RELEASE - British Deaf Association congratulates Gerry Hughes for being first Deaf yachtsman to sail solo around the world

9 May 2013

The British Deaf Association (BDA) has congratulated Gerry Hughes on being the first Deaf yachtsman to sail single-handed around the world, via the five capes. 

Gerry, who was born profoundly deaf and communicates using British Sign Language, is expected to arrive back at Troon, Scotland around midday on Wednesday, 8 May after an epic eight-month voyage. 

David Buxton, Chief Executive of the BDA said: 

"Gerrys's incredible, couragerous feat is a tribute to the human spirit and an inspiration for Deaf and hearing people alike. It is a bonus that Gerry's homecoming happens to fall in Deaf Awareness Week - I hope it raises awareness of all that Deaf people can achieve."

Terry Riley, Chair of the BDA, added: 

Like many Deaf people, Gerry has faced obstacles throughout his life but none has been greater than this epic adventure. By harnessing technology, he overcame the problems of not being able to hear weather warnings and fog horns. Gerry proves that, with the right support, Deaf people can do anything they put their minds to.” 

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Notes to Editors

1.    For more comment from the BDA, please contact David Buxton on ceo@bda.org.uk

2.    For comment from Gerry Hughes, please contact Kay Hughes at ac2.com on Tel: 0141 404 5825, email: kay@ac2.com; or Gary McQeen at Media House on Tel: 0141 220 6040, email: gary@mediahouse.co.uk. 

3.    The BDA is an organisation led by and for Deaf people. It seeks to ensure that Deaf people can participate and contribute as equal and valued citizens in wider society. 

4.    Gerry Hughes, 55, was born profoundly deaf. He set off on his round-the-world voyage on 1 September 2012. His blog of his trip is at gerrysmhughes.com

5.    Gerry dreamt of sailing round the world from the age of 14. At the age of 32, he was the first Deaf skipper to sail around the British Isles, and in 2005, at 47, he was the first deaf skipper to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. 

6.    Gerry struggled to read and write until he was 15. He obtained a degree in Mathematics from the Open University at the age of 33 and four years later, in 1995, became the first Deaf teacher in Scotland since 1880. 

7.    A lack of bilingual education in British Sign Language and English means that deaf children routinely receive a poorer education than hearing people and can spend their lives trying to catch up. Gerry is one Deaf person who has triumphed over all the odds. 

8.    For details of Deaf Awareness Week, see www.deafcouncil.org.uk/deaf-awareness-week.html