Philip E. Brown — Honorary Vice President

Philip is the Honorary Vice President of Deaf First, having previously been a founding director and the first Chair.

He was born deaf in Manchester and was lucky enough to get support through the local world-renowned Department of Audiology and Education of the Deaf at Manchester University. This was under the guidance of Professor Sir Alexander Ewing in the mid 1950’s. The support he received from that Department enabled him to succeed in getting a place at Mary Hare Grammar School for the Deaf, achieving academic success from which he had a rewarding career in local Government offering 35 years of public service. He was a Lead Officer in Environmental Health and a member of many specialist groups both regionally and nationally. He was also Trustee, for nearly 20 years, (being Chair for 10 years) of Deafness Support Network (formerly Cheshire Deaf Society), a regional charity that provides a number of services to D/deaf people and their families in Cheshire.

Martin Willis — Chairperson

Chairperson and one of the founding Directors of Deaf First

Having been involved with GBDF (Great Britain Deaf Football) as Chair as well as Deaf Sports in general for many years, Martin has first-hand knowledge of just how difficult it is to get the required support and funding for Deaf athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen to reach their full potential and go to international tournaments.

Hence, Martin was keen to ensure action was taken to alleviate this situation and got together with Chris Beech & Sharon Hirshman and approached Ken Carter & Philip Brown to set up Deaf First (Deaf First), so that they could make a concerted effort to relieve the pressure on our Deaf sportsmen/women.

A keen sportsman, Martin and his wife Abigail, also a keen sportswoman, have 3 deaf children all of whom have been involved in Deaf sports. Martin has worked for the Prudential for over 33 years in various roles, mainly in Project Management and brings a wide breadth of business experience and Deaf sports community knowledge to Deaf First.

Ken Carter — DLC(Hons), Cert Ed., Cert. Deaf. Ed., BSc., MSc., FRSM - Director

One of the founding Directors of Deaf First

Ken is now the Director of the Deafax Research and Development Unit which is based at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. He was awarded a Sports scholarship to Millfield School and has studied at Loughborough, Surrey and London Universities. He has been challenged by a variety of roles; as a top class sportsman, Royal Marine Commando, parent of a deaf daughter, teacher of English, History and Physical Education, teacher-lecturer in deaf education, advisory lecturer in special needs and as a charitable/social entrepreneur. He has been responsible for helping to set up 10 charities/companies limited by guarantee including Decibels & Deaf Aspirations. For his contribution to preventative medicine and healthcare, he was elected in 2007 as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. In 2009 he was awarded an Honorary Degree from Loughborough University as part of their Centenary Celebrations and recently he was made a “Distinguished Old Millfieldian”.By helping to set up Deaf First, Ken hopes to “make a significant difference” to the lives of deaf & hearing sportswomen/men in the UK and worldwide.

Sharon Hirshman — Trustee/Director

One of the founding Directors of Deaf First

Sharon has participated in many different sports, representing GB at the Deaflympics in Women’s Football and Basketball. She attended the Taiwan Deaflympics as a Liaison officer for Great Britain, was one of the original trustees for UK Deaf Sports and involved in its foundations until she voluntarily withdrew due to maternity leave. She is a qualified social worker, has worked in that area for 20 years and is currently working in the Dual Sensory Loss service. Sharon was one of the nominations for the ‘Unsung Hero’ category in the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year 2015 as well as being a nominee for the GB Deaf Women’s Football squad and for Team Sports of the Year 2015.She understands the processes and structure that are needed when working and dealing with Sport UK, Sport England and the English Federation of Disability Sport. She is aware that one has to work with the National Governing bodies in this country so as to enable them to work with deaf participants in hearing/mainstream clubs and organisations. She sees Deaf First playing an important role in ensuring that young deaf people get all the support they need at whatever level they participate. She is looking forward to the “Challenges Ahead”

Riccardo Mancuso — Adviser

Full Time Strategy Director for Plan International. Adviser to Deaf First

Riccardo has been skilfully developing and leading the implementation of a strategy to shape future business & digital opportunities for Deaf First. He will be continuing to develop a comprehensive business plan comprising both transactional & transformational elements to ensure stakeholder buy-in and establish a robust & transparent governance model.

Riccardo has over 15 years of experience in a blue chip environment, providing a broad, strong foundation of best practice solutions to tackle operational challenges. Riccardo works with a strong sense of urgency to achieve quality results, quickly. Outside of work, Riccardo loves to explore and discover new things. His camera follows him wherever he goes and his computer boasts a decade of photos of architecture, people and cultures.