Chaplain to the deaf wins Funeral Award

First published 6th September 2016
Chaplain for the deaf Gill Behenna

The Revd Canon Gill Behenna, Chaplain with the Deaf Community, has been named Minister of the Year at the Good Funeral Awards.

Gill won the honour at the annual awards ceremony in Porchester Hall, Bayswater, on Thursday (8 September).

She was one of four people on the shortlist for Minister of the Year including Gogglebox star Kate Bottley, who was named runner-up.

Gill, who is also part-time National Adviser for Deaf Ministry, said: The issue of deaf people having access to funerals is a big one. Too often they are ignored when they attend funerals, so it is about giving them the chance to be able to say what they want to say.

When a deaf person dies, the people who organise the funeral are likely to have full hearing and so dont take into account the deaf community or deaf culture.

It may be that all their friends and colleagues from the last 40 years have been deaf, but suddenly these deaf people can be left out of the occasion.

There are a number of aspects to think about when organising a funeral which is accessible to the deaf community.

It may mean, for example, booking a double spot at the crematorium as it takes longer to use two languages: sign language and English through interpreters, said Gill.

It may be that we include video clips as well, as deaf people are very visual in the way they engage with the world, or we get rid of some of the more wordy parts of the service.

It is about making the connections; the deaf community is very small, even in Bristol, and everybody knows everybody else. When a local vicar comes in to minister a funeral, he or she wont necessarily know the deaf community.

Im trying to get the awareness out there. I want to ensure that we are giving the best possible goodbye for people.

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