The news last week that actress Sian Blake had been confirmed dead, along with her two children, has led to many members of the Deaf community expressing their sadness on social media.
Blake had learned sign language and was well known and liked among Deaf people who knew her in the London area, where she had worked in Deaf schools giving communication support.
According to this BBC article, Blake was a registered Trainee Sign Language Interpreter and also used her sign language skills on screen in a 2007 episode of The Last Detective.
We asked John Wilson, a BSL lecturer, actor and arts practitioner for his memories of her. He said:
I remember Sian Blake very well. She was a “guinea pig” in my BSL class, at the RNID in 2005.
Sian was well known amongst us, not because she played Frankie Pierre in “East Enders” a few years before, but because she always had a smile and a friendly word for everyone. She was a natural in learning BSL too.
She was written out of “EastEnders”, because the viewing public hated her character – in real life she was the exact opposite to Frankie Pierre.
She told me that her EastEnders fame had been a career high but she was looking forward to new horizons and new challenges. She always aimed high so it was no surprise when she eventually became a sign language teacher and interpreter.
I was sad last year to hear that she was terminally ill with Motor Neurone Disease, which would have robbed her of her ability to use BSL.
She was a lovely person and will be remembered fondly by the many deaf people she worked with.
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.
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