Philip E. Brown – Honorary Vice President

Philip is the Honorary Vice President of the Deaf Sports & Football Foundation

Philip 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 has been a Trustee, for nearly 20 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. He is currently Chair of the organisation, a position he has held for nearly 10 years.

Recently, he was introduced to the Women GB Deaf Football through their coach, Chris Gwynn, who is renown for coaching deaf football teams and through him met Martin Willis. He gradually learnt of the difficulties in providing support for D/deaf football players. He was approached by Chris & Martin to be a founding Director as Chair of a new charity, created solely to meet the needs of D/deaf sports players in fulfilling their personal ambitions. He was honoured to be taking on this demanding role and with the support of his fellow Directors develop this fledging organisation into a well respected and successful enterprise. He is determined to provide discipline and focus to meet the early challenges in providing support through communication, logistics, finance and sport science.

Martin Willis – Chairperson

Chairperson and one of the founding Directors of the Deaf Sports & Football Foundation

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 DSFF (Deaf Sports & Football Foundation), 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 DSFF.

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

One of the founding Directors of the Deaf Sports & Football Foundation

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 Sports & Football Foundation, Ken hopes to “make a significant difference” to the lives of deaf & hearing sportswomen/men in the UK and worldwide.

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Chris Beech – Trustee/Director

One of the founding Directors of the Deaf Sports & Football Foundation

Having been involved with International Deaf Sports in general for many years as a keen sportsman, Chris has experienced how difficult it is to get the required support and funding for Deaf athletes to attend international tournaments. He has seen many Deaf talented athletes fail to fulfil their dreams and potential because of lack of funding available to them.

Upon restructuring Great Britain Deaf Football organisation, together with Martin Willis and Sharon Hirshman approached Ken Carter and Philip Brown to set up DSFF (Deaf Sports & Football Foundation) in order to try and address the issue of self funding Deaf athletes failing to fulfil their dreams and potential due to lack of funding available to them.

Chris started his career by working his way up ASDA's graduate scheme to become a senior departmental manager, directly managing more than 50 staff, after graduating from Wolverhampton University. Chris then moved on to Wolverhampton City Council where he stayed for 10 years to become Project Development and Liaison Manager of the Council's Customer Service team where he set up their efficient contact centre that is in operation today. Chris now works as Project Development and Training Manager for a Deaf led Zebra Access charity.

With over 15 years of project and line management experience and Deaf community knowledge, Chis hopes his experience and expertise will assist with the development of DSFF (Deaf Sports & Football Foundation) so that Deaf sportspeople of the future realise their dreams and achieve their potential without funding issues.

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Sharon Hirshman Trustee/Director

One of the founding Directors of the Deaf Sports & Football Foundation

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 DSFF 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”

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George Stockton – Adviser

An adviser to the Deaf Sports & Football Foundation

George is working as a volunteer, part time Fundraising Officer for Great Britain Deaf Football (GBDF) and playing in the under 23's squad. It has given him a good insight into the funding difficulties GBDF face. It has also made him determined to help improve the situation with ambitious plans to raise public awareness and secure longer term funding for the teams

As a passionate footballer, he has played both for both Mainstream and Deaf Football teams and is a Level 2 qualified FA Coach with some coaching experience. He currently play for Manchester United Deaf Men’s football team and competes with both deaf and hearing teams.

He also studies at the University of Football Business (UCFB) based in Burnley at Turf Moor and hopes to graduate in 2015. This course has provided him with the knowledge and a good understanding of the background and financing of football as a business. These skills can be transferred to the wider football network and provide links to this high profile sports industry. George also works part-time for the Football Association (FA) in the Retail and Tours Department at Wembley Stadium and has a family business background which has supported his knowledge of the concept of business. As well as attending GBDF meetings, he is also a representative and vice chair of his University Student Council.