Draper was best known for his work as a comedian and actor, but was also involved in many other areas of the Deaf community, excelling at Deaf sports and working as a counsellor for Deaf students.
He first became well known as part of the Deaf Comedians group, set up nearly 20 years ago. The sketch-based group toured Britain and then the world, pioneering a brand of humour based on Deaf culture. He was asked to join after winning an award at the North West Festival of Deaf Drama and Comedy.
During an interview with Julian Peedle-Calloo in an episode of the chat show Under the Lamp, Draper said of his time as a comedian: “I love making people laugh. It’s a sad world out there – so many depressing events on a daily basis. So getting up on stage, connecting with people and making them laugh, made me feel better.”
He went on to become an actor, starring in the BBC’s Deaf soap opera, Switch, directed by Louis Neethling. He collaborated closely with Neethling on a number of other films, including Grandad, Departure Lounge and his final film, Still Here. He also worked with director Sam Dore, most notably on Chasing Cotton Clouds, which won the best film award at Deaffest 2011.
Having begun his working life driving a JCB tipper, Draper had to give up a career as a roofer following an accident. He went on to work in mental health, becoming a counsellor for Deaf students at the University of Bristol. There, he also taught Deaf Awareness, advised university departments about Deaf access, and served as Chair of the Deaf Studies Trust.
An incredibly popular figure for his friendly nature and his sense of humour, Draper grew up in the North West of England, and helped support the work of the British Deaf Association there. Having moved to Bristol for work, he became a regular at Bristol Deaf Club, performing at fundraising evenings. He loved sport, and earlier in his life, picked up numerous trophies for his achievements in Deaf sport, playing football, cricket, badminton, snooker and bowls.
Photo: Still image from Chasing Cotton Clouds, with thanks to Sam Dore.
Watch Hal Draper’s interview with Julian Peedle-Calloo in an episode of On the Lamp here:
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Phonak: innovative technology and products in hearing acoustics
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. 5 tips for travelling with hearing loss!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Clarion: BSL/English interpreting and employment services
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- Signature: Find out about the Signature conference here.
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Signworld: online BSL learning and teaching materials
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- DCAL: Find out how to study at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, London
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- Sarah Gatford: BSL interpreting, training and consultancy
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people
- deafPLUS: Money advice line in BSL
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children