Celebrities and Red Arrows put ‘hands on ears’ to raise deaf awareness .. and tell us why

Posted on June 4, 2014



Celebrities from the worlds of TV, music and sport have joined an online campaign to raise deaf awareness.

Since Deaf Awareness week in May this year, stars including Zoe Ball and DJ husband Fat Boy Slim, Bath rugby star Mat Gilbert and the world famous host of Man V Food, Adam Richman, have tweeted pictures of themselves with their hands over their ears to demonstrate their support for the cause.

Yesterday, the world famous Red Arrows display team also set up a special picture to show their support.

hands on ears

The original #handsonears picture

Danielle Wiliams, the mother behind the campaign, has been non-stop tweeting celebrities asking for pictures of themselves with some well-known names joining in. Danielle began the campaign shortly after her three-year-old son was diagnosed as profoundly deaf in April.

She said: “My three year old son Alfie is deaf and I wanted to raise awareness so that people don’t feel alone. Because selfies are so popular on twitter I thought that would be a good way to do it so we posed as a family with our ears covered.

“As soon as I posted the picture people started joining in and I’ve had hundreds of people posting now, it’s brilliant. I’d been interviewed on my local radio stations for the awareness week and the presenters there all joined in too.

“That’s when I got the idea to ask a few celebrities to get on board, not really expecting that they would but I was so surprised by the response. I’ve had photos from chefs Brian Turner and Rachel Allen, TV presenters Andi Peters, Adam Richman and some of the CBeebies team, Radio celebrities Zoe Ball and Norman Cook, sprinter Iwan Thomas and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson to mention just a few!”

One of the stars of Bafta award winning show Gogglebox, Stephen Webb, send a picture of himself covering his ears. He said he wanted to support the campaign after meeting a deaf person in a bar.

“I met someone out a few weeks ago in a bar and we chatted. He could lip read perfectly so we could chat easily but at the same time I did feel that we should all know a basic amount of sing language, surely? I think deaf people are a bit neglected in that way. I just think we should all learn sign language or have an understanding of it. It’s just the thing to do, isn’t it.”

Gogglebox is a show based on watching people watch TV. Stephen was surprised to learn that Gogglebox has its subtitles removed on some TV on-demand platforms, like Sky or Virgin.

“I don’t know anyone deaf and I’m not deaf myself but that’s scandalous. I don’t know how many deaf people there are in the country but they’re missing the wider audience aren’t they? It’s not good at all – we’ll have to start a campaign!”

Stephen Webbs #handsonears selfie

As well as the celebrity chefs, TV presenters and sporting personalities, Danielle’s biggest coup came in the shape of a giant red arrow.

Red Arrows

“I was just gobsmacked when I got the photo of the Red Arrows through. It’s way more than I could have asked, everybody knows them and loves them and it’s an amazing photo as well – I was so excited.”

Red Arrows Team Leader, Red 1, Squadron Leader Jim Turner said: “When we heard of the #handsonears campaign, we were absolutely delighted to support such a great cause. The Team fully support Danielle’s attempts in raising awareness to the Deafness campaign and wish her every success.”

Although its not easy to send a selfie with both hands on your ears, here are some more of the #handsonears pictures:

TV legend Andi Peters upside down attempt

Action on Hearing Loss boss Paul Breckell

Deaf Pro Rugby player Mat Gilbert holding the phone in his knees

TV Presenter Zoe Ball and DJ husband Norman Cook AKA Fatboy Slim in familiar pose

Top TV Chef Rachel Allen

Trim looking Man vs Food presenter Adam Richman

Film maker Ted Evans with a slightly different take on it

Olympic athelete Iwan Thomas

And me too. I won the dad’s race at sports day with no shoes on.

By Andy Palmer, Deputy Editor. 

Andy is Chairman of the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society and teaches sign language in primary schools. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP

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