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  • Writer's pictureGDA

GDA's 100th anniversary - from 1971 to 1996

Today we look at GDA from the years of 1971 to 1996, a period of time that saw a number of significant changes in the organisation.

An Annual Report published in 1971 began by looking at the promise of an exciting and even dramatic new decade that lay ahead, with the realm of science making startling advances. And while this was the case on a wider, more mainstream scale, the Chief Welfare Officer, Mr Albert remained pessimistic as to how the Deaf community would benefit from the modern advances, in any way. He says "It is trite for me to say that everyone can appreciate at a glance the sightless eyes of he who is blind; or see the twisted or missing limbs of those deformed or crippled. You can see, you can readily sympathise; even stand ready to help should help be required. But -and here I must exclaim: "Alas, Deafness cannot be seen!"

Mr Ross continues in his report to highlight the difficulties Deaf people face, in particular the isolation they face. This brought about the mention of the Associations own deaf club, based at 17 St Mary's Square, where the members "turn to each other eagerly signing away 16 to the dozen".

In 1974 a reorganisation of the local Government led to Gloucestershire County Council being responsible for social services for both the City and County, meaning the Association went on to receive an increased level of funding to provide welfare services to the local Deaf community.

It was in the mid 70s that The Association received a Certificate of Registration to increase the number of persons able to reside at The Butlin Home for the Deaf to a maximum of 13 elderly or disabled person. The Butlin Home was a place that offered a safe and supportive environment for it's residents until it's closure in 1999.

After almost 36 years of service to Gloucestershire Deaf community, it was great sadness that the death of Mr Ross was announced in 1984. Following Mr Ross's passing, his wife, Mrs Ross, who herself had been a significant presence within the Deaf community, also announced her retirement.

Following Mr Ross's death, Nigel Bone was appointed as Director of Operations in 1985. Nigel joined the organisation as a fully qualified Social Worker. This led to the Association's function being increasingly directed at providing social work services to the Deaf and in turn the Association began to take on the role of an agency. The service level agreements that were negotiated with Gloucestershire County Council's Social Services department allowed the recruitment of additional social workers, including GDA's first qualified Deaf Social Worker, Paul Harper in 1988.

Towards the late 80s, work was being done to the Butlin Home for the Deaf to expand and upgrade the facilities. It was on the 1st July 1989 that the newly renovated Home was opened.

The early 90s saw big changes to the 71yr old Association, when in 1992 the Association changed its name from The Gloucester Diocesan Association for the Deaf to Gloucestershire Deaf Association and in turn became a registered charity and company limited by guarantee. It also saw the charity move it's headquarters from St Mary's Square, where it had been since in formation in 1919, to a the old school site on Colin Road, Barnwood - where the charity remains today. The new £100,000 HQ was possible thanks to the generous support of the charity's supporters and members, and was officially opened by Mr R. Coxwell-Rogers, the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire on the 13th December 1994. It was in the same year that Rev. Steve Morris became the new Chaplain to the Deaf and hard of hearing.

Tomorrow we conclude our look back at GDA's 100 year history so please do come back then for the final instalment.


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