Rachel Hubbard, founder and CEO of Bexley-based Deaf Umbrella East - a loyal supporter of this site – has been crowned Entrepreneur of the Year at the South London Business Awards ceremony held on 4 July at the Riverbank Park Plaza, London, hosted by BBC Radio’s James Cannon.
From hundreds of entries, 89 finalists were shortlisted for the evening’s awards and Rachel beat off stiff competition to win the coveted title. Presenting the award, Bryan Treherne, urged the audience to “look up the dictionary definition of entrepreneur because against it you will see the name Rachel Hubbard.”
Deaf Umbrella provides British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters to deaf people and those working with them. Rachel learnt British Sign Language as a child when her mother suddenly fell profoundly deaf. She founded Deaf Umbrella when she realised how poorly deaf people’s communication needs were met.
Rachel said: ‘At Deaf Umbrella, we are passionate about supporting deaf people and those who work with them.’
The company started in 2000 with a single client. It now employs five full-time staff and up to thirty interpreters – serving government, colleges and universities, the voluntary sector and some of the biggest names in British business.
Deaf Umbrella’s success also rests on a unique commitment to the training and development of its staff and others working with the deaf community.
Deaf Umbrella provides in-house training for its own employees with Level 3 qualifications in BSL to advance to Level 6. And last year, the company teamed up with the University of Greenwich to provide a fully-accredited, 60 credit Level 4 course to others in the field.
Now Rachel is offering these resources to other universities so they can ‘grow their own communication support workers’ and is planning the first degree-level course in the specialism.
To find out more about Deaf Umbrella and the services they provide, go to: deafumbrella.com