When I found out yesterday morning that Stephen Pink had passed away over the Bank Holiday weekend, I was shocked and saddened. This is a tragedy for anyone involved in Deaf media in the UK.
I remember the first time I met Stephen. It was in 1995 and I was standing on his doorstep waiting for him to open the door and I looked up and just kept on going! He was a giant of a man!
He welcomed me in to his home where he told me all about the feature film that he had made in the late 1960s. I was working as a Researcher for the Deaf TV programme ‘Sign On’ (made by Tyne Tees TV) at the time, and we wanted to make an item about Stephen and his media achievements.
From 1965-1967, he made a full-length film in BSL called ‘The Return of Dracula’ in which he starred as Dracula, directed, made the props, built the set and did just about any other job involved in the film.
It took him 2 years to complete and was shot on 8mm film. He waited for a foggy night to rush out and film the real fog to create the eerie atmosphere of Dracula! Amazing.
Nowadays, we’d just hire a wind machine or use computers to add it all in, but Stephen did it all himself – and without the luxury of technology that we have today. It was a fantastic achievement for himself and for the Deaf community.
He then took the film on tour around the UK to many different Deaf Clubs where they’d set up a Cinefilm projector and sit down together to watch the FIRST EVER BSL feature length film. At Coventry Deaf Club, over 300 people came to watch. His heart and passion was with the Deaf community.
I know his achievements have inspired me, and I’m sure many others who work within Deaf media in the UK. Stephen Pink was a man ahead of his time in the media world, he was a trail-blazer and we all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. He was an unsung hero.
His achievements were acknowledged with a Lifetime Achievement Award given at the Remark! Film & TV Awards in 2009. I can remember the entire room full of spectators got to their feet to give a standing ovation to Stephen Pink and his fantastic achievements. To see that public recognition of his work was amazing and a night I shall never forget.
I know that the sad passing of his wife Edna, twelve years ago left Stephen alone and heartbroken, but his heart always stayed with his local Deaf community, even with his deteriorating health.
He was featured in the recent BSL Zone documentary ‘Who Cares?‘ – where he talked about not wanting to move away from his home and the Deaf community by going in to a care home. He would miss his friends and Deaf people too much. He would miss signing too much.
Stephen Pink was a Deaf man, with a proud Deaf heart and strong roots within the Deaf community. I am sad at his passing on 24th August 2013.
The UK Deaf community have lost a pioneer and someone who’s achievements should never be forgotten.
RIP Stephen Pink and thank you for everything.
By Joe Collins.
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-Live: Find out how audism affects Deaf people
- 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
- 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
- Signworld: online BSL learning and teaching materials
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- Krazy Kat: visual theatre with BSL
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education 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
- SDHH: Project Development and Consultancy
- 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