The churches of

St John the Baptist Wellington

and St Mary the Virgin West Buckland

Diocese of Bath and Wells

Diane Donohue

I moved to Wellington from Berkshire at the end of 2019. There I had set up a new Deaf church in Newbury Berkshire in St Nicholas church, together with a local Deaf lady. There, a member of our ordained church ministry team took the service and various members of the congregation interpreted or delivered the readings or prayers in BSL (British Sign Language). We were a small but happy group, from far and wide across Berkshire. The nearest other Deaf churches that met only once per month were in Maidenhead and Oxford. We always had a good tea and natter afterwards, while looking out for each other too.

I was aware that there was not a social club meeting place or a Deaf church in the south west of the county of Berkshire. Our Lord led me to St Nicholas church and to the people who could make the church happen and give it support. The church continues to this day, now being interpreted by an interpreter from a neighbouring theatre in Newbury.

Early in 2020 Revd. Selina Garner suggested that I joined the chaplaincy training course held on Zoom by the chaplaincy adviser Rev. Mike Haslem. I took part in that course over 8 weeks, with about 20 other participants from around the country and Europe. Doing a training on Zoom is not the same as meeting others in person, however it did remind you of the skills and knowledge you already had and raised your awareness of issues and skills needed and to research additional areas of knowledge.

Additionally, Revd. Tim Treanor also asked me to interpret one Holy Communion service with him that went on YouTube. It was the first time and an experiment, and it needed improvement. However, this has opened the door to the possibilities for spiritual support for Deaf BSL users.  He subsequently asked me to interpret the Commemoration for Prince Phillip in March which brought additional clarity and dimension to the open-air service in the grounds under the blossom trees in St John’s church yard.

I am offering to teach those in our team of churches, for those who would like to learn, some basic BSL signs and Spiritual signs. Again, if you or someone you know  who is Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or D/deafblind who would like some information or support please get in touch.

Please contact me via Christine Winhall.

Diane Donohue

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