Debbie Powell, Sign language teacher and highly-respected member of the local deaf community in Peterborough, died of cancer at home yesterday.
Debbie made many friends in the local deaf community through her sign language teaching, which enabled her to help ranks of local people learn the language. She held a passion for and knowledge of BSL that she was able to cheerfully and expertly pass on.
Debbie will also be fondly remembered for her goodwill towards other deaf people. Debbie coordinated a fortnightly drop-in service to give others an opportunity to meet and socialise and had previously also been actively involved with Peterborough Deaf Club.
Many readers will remember the story of Debbie’s journey as she fought off brain cancer for the first time, told here on The Limping Chicken last year. Debbie explained how she had to remain awake during surgery to save her speech.
The manner in which she lived her life during those tough recent years serves as an inspiration; she remained positive, good humoured and dignified. Soon after Debbie recovered from the effects of brain surgery, which included not being able to read for a time, she then defeated breast cancer and demonstrated her strength and resilience again as she returned to teaching. In that period of good health, she taught over 100 more students how to sign.
Debbie will be sorely missed by her friends and students who will have their own memories of her excellent humour, skilful teaching and generosity of spirit towards the local deaf community; a community whose thoughts are with Debbie’s parents, husband and two children as they bear the full impact of this tragic loss.
By Andy Palmer
Details of Debbie’s funeral will be posted on The Cambridgeshire Deaf Association’s website in due course.
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