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A little look at GDA's leadership over the years

No charity or organisation can run efficiently and effectively without good leadership. Over the last 100yrs GDA has been privileged to have been led by dedicated leaders who have kept deaf people at the heart GDA.

As we celebrate our 100th birthday this week, we thought we would take a look back at the wonderful leaders of GDA.

Albert Ross - 1948 to 1984

Mr Ross played a significant part of GDA's story. Mr Ross came in to post as the Superintendent Missioner for the 'Gloucester Diocesan Association for the Deaf' in 1948, taking over from Mr W. J. Brown who had served from 1938 to 1947. Mr Ross joined the Association with experience of deaf welfare work having served under the doyen of Deaf Missioners, Mr R. F. Flewitt of Preston. His experience was also personal as his wife, Mrs Ross was the daughter of deaf parents. Mr Ross was in post when GDA celebrated it's 50th anniversary which was recognised with a service of Thanksgiving at Gloucester Cathedral when over 1,000 people from all over the country came together to celebrate the Association's anniversary.

Nigel Bone - 1985 to 1999

After the sad loss of Mr Ross and the retirement of Mrs Ross in 1984, Nigel Bone was appointed Prinicipal Officer of GDA. Nigel joined the Association as a professionally qualified Social Worker. His appointment led GDA's function to be increasingly directed at providing social work services to the deaf. GDA then took on the role of an agency and as a result of service level agreements being negotiated with Gloucestershire County Council Social Services department, the recruitment of additional social workers was undertaken, including GDA's first qualified Deaf social worker, Paul Harper in 1988. It was under Nigel's leadership that the Association became a registered charity in 1994 and the name changed to Gloucestershire Deaf Association. It was also during Nigel's time in post that GDA moved from it's premises in St Mary's Square to it's current site on Colin Road, Barnwood.

Maggie Conu - 2000 to 2008

Maggie joined GDA at the turn of the new century, in 2000 and during her time in post the organisation saw a significant shift towards technology supporting deaf people. Thanks to some Trust funding GDA was exploring videophones as a way of giving British Sign Language (BSL) users greater access to mainstream communication. GDA was on hand to enable them to use the new technology through resources at GDA in Barnwood. It was also during Maggie's eight years with GDA that services started to be directed at supporting hard of hearing people. Following a Needs Assessment in 2004, it became apparent that here was a huge need within the hard of hearing community, for services.

Jenny Hopkins - 2008 to 2018

Following Maggie's departure from GDA in 2008, Jenny Hopkins was appointed Chief Executive Officer in the summer of the same year. During Jenny's ten years with GDA the organisation saw it's service expand considerably and service contracts brought back in to the charity. In 2015 Jenny led the Board of Trustees to securing the Barnwood site following a historic pension deficit of nearly half a million pounds. Through the sale of the on-site car park and thanks to fundraising efforts, Jenny ensured the GDA offices and Community Centre would be around for future generations of deaf and hard of hearing people.

It goes without saying that GDA wouldn't be here or be the charity it is today without our previous leaders. Thanks to them GDA is here today, celebrating it's 100th birthday and for that we are eternally grateful to them all for their wonderful efforts over the years.

Photos above, from left to right going clockwise:

  • Albert Ross (centre) with Mike Sadler (left) and Michael Heath (right)

  • Nigel Bone with GDA's current CEO, Sharon Bryant

  • Maggie Conu

  • Jenny Hopkins


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