As part of Doncaster Deaf Trust’s 190th celebrations, our executive principal, Alexis Johnson, looks back at our proud history and also what the future holds at the Trust for the next 190 years!

What an incredible honour for me to be executive principle here at Doncaster Deaf Trust during such a milestone year. I only joined the organisation back in April but straight away it was abundantly clear how proud everybody in Doncaster should be of the Trust’s long and distinguished history supporting children and young people from across the UK who are deaf or have communication and learning difficulties. I, for one, do not take the responsibility lightly as we look to build on the groundwork already done and enhance what we offer so the Trust can continue doing what it does best!

It was back in 1829 when Reverend William Carr Fenton set up a school in Doncaster to help young deaf people receive an education and become self-supporting adults. Fast forward 190 years and Doncaster Deaf Trust now manages Little Learners Day Nursery, Doncaster School for the Deaf and Communication Specialist College Doncaster as well as Specialist Employability Support Services and Doncaster Deaf Trust Children's Homes which offers residential care 52 weeks of the year for school children needing weekly or term-time accommodation while they study at Doncaster School for the Deaf.

Throughout the Trust’s history, there has been a consistent belief in the importance of deaf and hearing impaired children and young people receiving specialist intervention to help them achieve their full potential. And this is no different today. We have a fantastic team here at the Trust working tirelessly to support young people from across the country, in partnership with their families, to provide the earliest possible specialist intervention and to equip them with the education, knowledge and skills to succeed in employment and life in general.

There’s no doubt that the current economic climate means we need to fight harder than ever to make sure that those in our society get the specialist services they need. We have been working incredibly hard over recent months to ensure that this group of people have a voice and will continue to work with Local Authorities, MPs and government to keep this issue at the fore 

Looking ahead, we have some really exciting plans coming up to ensure we can continue to grow and develop the services we have on offer. Our current level of placement numbers is on track and the plans to grow in the next three years are forming well with the Local Authorities we are working with. We’ve been building links with Sheffield City Region to develop a more strategic and worthwhile partnership that we think will really benefit us moving forward. In addition, we will be putting a real focus on our fundraising efforts and we have some really exciting projects lined up that we will be announcing over the coming weeks and months.

We are also continuing to work with the business community and those organisations that continue to support us financially. A huge thank you must go to all our donors – we would not be where we are without you.

So, to finish, I want to reiterate how pleased I am to be part of Doncaster Deaf Trust’s future. I hope you will all join me, the trustees, governors, staff and everyone involved in the Trust in raising a glass to 190 years of Doncaster Deaf Trust… here’s to the next 190 years to come!