Meet the Team

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Chaplain Debbie Harvey

I have lived in Cornwall for 37 years, so I am getting a little bit Cornish. I am married to John , we have two daughters and eight grandchildren . I grew up as a regular church going, although my family was not . I am partially deaf due to Meningitis as a baby. When we moved to Cornwall , from Portsmouth, in 1979 I came to faith and shortly afterwards have a profound healing experience. I felt that God was asking me to learn Bristish Sign Language, so I enrolled in a course for beginners at Cornwall College. It was there that I met Barrie Curtis, the first profoundly deaf person that I had ever met. Shortly after that Barrie also make a commitment of faith, followed later by his wife Susan. At that time there was no Church for deaf people in Cornwall. We started services once a month, and then a bible Study group once a month . I felt that God was calling me to become a priest, but for several reasons , it took six years before before I started my ordination training. My calling has always been to minister with deaf people, and I have had the privilege to serve the deaf community in Cornwall as a priest since 1995.

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Sarah Wardle

I was born 10 weeks prematurely, which is probably the reason for my deafness. I was diagnosed severely deaf at 3 years of age, which wasn’t unusual in those days. After that I was fitted with a hearing aid and attended a PHU within a mainstream school. My education was then continued at a school for the deaf, Mary Hare Grammar school, near Newbury, Berkshire. It was here, that through the Christian Union and attending a very welcoming local Anglican Church at nearby Greenham that I became a Christian. It also gave me the opportunity to accept my identity as a deaf person and develop a greater understanding of deaf culture and community. I first moved down to Cornwall to work as a teacher of the deaf in 1986, met Hugh and we married in 1988, and Cornwall has become our adopted home county. I started to learn BSL in 2007 as part of my job and had the privilege of taking a level 2 course with Barrie and Susan Curtis, who taught me a lot about Deaf culture alongside the language of BSL. It has been a long journey but I have now completed Level 6 and I hope and pray that this will enable me to support Debbie’s work with the Deaf Church in Cornwall as well as with the wider Deaf community here.

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Brenda Clarke

I am Brenda Clarke and many years ago I learnt British Sign Language. I found learning very hard especially as I cannot cope with examinations. The more I met Deaf People, the more I wanted to be part of the Deaf Community. Through dreams I had when I could sign anything with vocabulary I had never learnt (pity not when I woke up) and wanting to use any talent God gave me to His glory, I was thrilled but extremely nervous when Debbie asked me about voicing over and signing in church. Since then I have felt the Holy Spirit helping me on several occasions. I was also honoured but shocked to be asked to be Patron of the Cornwall Deaf Community Centre. My husband Bill, "daughter" Maria and myself have been blessed by the friendship of the Deaf Community.

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Christine Fitszimmons

As a child I went to Exeter School for Deaf Children, and stayed there for 10 years. When we were at school we all went to Church every Sunday, this was at St Leonards Church which was next to the School. I later became Head Girl at this School. My Grandfather had also been Profoundly deaf and had gone to the same school, many years before. When I was home I went to Sunday School at Madron’s Church, and I also went to Brownies and later Girl Guides. I married Robert in August 1979 and had three lovely boys .

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Sally Palmer

Sally Palmer has been living in Cornwall since 1976, when she moved from Berkshire. She has worked for Cornwall County Council for 39 years in Finance Processing Administration.

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Mike Palmer

Mike is Cornish and used to work at the Royal Cornwall Hospital until his 60th birthday, than he retired. He is a first language BSL uses ( British Sign Language), which he learnt while at Exeter School for Deaf Children. He is Chairman of the Cornwall Deaf Community Centre. He loves gardening and his large family, daughters, son, grandchildren and greatgrandchildrens.