One of the city’s most historic schools has been awarded National Lottery money to fund a year’s worth of celebrations to mark its 125th birthday.
Staff and students at Royal School for the Deaf Derby have received £7,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help organise a series of events to celebrate the anniversary and promote its proud history.
The news comes at the start of National Deaf Awareness Week 2018 which is designed to raise awareness for those affected by hearing loss and promote what people can do to help.
The school, which was one of the country’s first for deaf children, originally opened in Friar Gate in 1893 when it was called the Royal Institute for the Deaf and Dumb.
The National Lottery money will be used to create a permanent exhibition using hundreds of old photographs and original artefacts from this time, while recordings will be made of past and present students reminiscing about life at the school.
Head teacher Helen Shepherd said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been given this financial support from the HLF which means we can celebrate the school’s history in a fitting way.
“In the last 125 years, the school has helped thousands of deaf children overcome challenges, develop a strong sense of identity and live richly fulfilling adult lives.
“We are very keen that the teachers and students who have been involved in making this history and who will shape the school’s future are involved in this anniversary project.
“And we hope that the wealth of heritage produced in this anniversary year will be available for future generations of deaf children so they can embrace their own history, culture, language and identity.”
The school will be 125 years old on October 14th but the celebrations begin on June 9th, with a traditional fair at the Ashbourne Road school with Morris dancers, tug-of-war and a carousel.
Visitors to the fair will be invited to paint a rock with a memory or symbol of the school which will eventually be used to create a path running through the grounds. And members of the deaf community will be invited to write a message on a series of acrylic hands, representing British Sign Language, which will be displayed on a tree in the school grounds.
Some of the lottery money has been earmarked for renovating the grave of the school’s founder Dr Roe, who is buried in Nottingham Road Cemetery.
And the school also plans to fund a heritage trail around the city, which will start with Dr Roe’s home in Five Lamps and also take in the original school’s gate which stand outside the Cathedral.
Mrs Shepherd added: “Derby has one of the biggest deaf communities in the country and deaf history and culture is a very important part of our curriculum today. From the outset, the school was extremely progressive and today we encourage pupils to learn about the school’s fine history and to be proud of it.
“It is very exciting to be given the opportunity to extend this learning out into the community and we look forward to showing the rest of Derby just what an incredible place Royal School for the Deaf Derby is.”
Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to support the Royal School of the Deaf in Derby to celebrate its history in its anniversary year. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will help pupils past, present and future to understand their heritage.”
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.