Deaf Sports Events13th October 2013

Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012

An interview with the people behind the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Awards, DSPY

by Sarah Lawrence


I had the pleasure of attending the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at the impressive Ricoh Arena in Coventry last year. It was a fantastic evening, celebrating and recognising the widespread success and achievements of many Deaf sportspeople. Events like this are fantastic for the deaf community, but they don’t happen on their own.


Having had such a fantastic time, and helped in the judging on behalf of the Home Countries of Wales for the awards, I was keen to interview the people who introduced and organise the Awards, Richard Weinbaum and Jackie Harrison, to find out a little more about them, and the story behind the Awards.

Richard was born in High Barnet and grew up in Hertfordshire. Richard developed a passion for sports, most especially football, cricket and tennis. Fresh from education, Richard began work as an apprentice with British Aerospace at Hatfield in 1986. A keen Design Engineer in Aerospace for 27 years, Richard has been working with Airbus UK at Filton for the last 11 years, designing and developing the new landing gears for the A380 and A350.

Jackie was born and grew up in Hull, and was keen on sports from a young age, especially rugby league and football. In the 1990’s she played for Hull City Ladies FC and won a bronze medal in the 2005 Deaflympics as a member of the Great Britain Deaf Women’s Football Team. For the last 15 years she has worked for Hull City Council as a Benefits Officer.

Awards nightRichard and Jackie discussed setting up the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Awards whilst guests on BBC’s equivalent in 2008. Richard had attended the event for several years and in 2008 when they were together, both Jackie and Richard felt that Deaf sportspeople were being overlooked. From that moment on they decided to pursue the Deaf Awards.

The Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Awards subsequently came to fruition. Run biennially, the Awards ceremony formally recognises the sporting achievements of Deaf individuals, teams and organisations in the UK and from overseas, and they have proved very popular. Whilst the Awards are significant in their won right, both Richard and Jackie believe the Awards have a wider and deeper purpose.

“We think it’s important to recognise achievement and how that sport plays its part in influencing the deaf community,” explained Richard. “It’s important for the young generation to look up to role models because there is a lack of media coverage of Deaf sports, and we are trying to build greater awareness of what is being achieved from scratch.”

The Awards are driven through community engagement, with nominations being made by Deaf and hearing people using an on-line process. For each nomination a brief supporting summary is needed, and completed forms are then sent to national Deaf judges for consideration.

“We had a panel of six national Deaf judges, three sportsmen and three sportswomen, with judges coming from Northern Ireland, North England, South England, Midlands, Scotland and Wales,” Jackie said. “Once we collated the nominations from the public, they were passed to the judges who had to decide on the six most deserving athletes for the main award, and three athletes for other awards such as Young Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year, Unsung Hero, Fan of the Year and Overseas Sport of the Year.” As one of those judges I have to tell you it was not easy!

TrophyThe winner, runner up and third place for the main award, were then decided by people voting live at the Awards ceremony using keypads. It was really exciting! For other awards, the judges had to decide on the winners of each award after picking three deserving shortlisted nominees about a month before the ceremony, and the winners were announced on the night.

Around 430 guests attended the Awards ceremony, and that made for a fantastic evening. Funding is critical and the level of support ensures that Richard and Jackie are not left out of pocket and some funds are raised to support Deaf sports. From the DSPY2012 Awards budget, £1,000 will go to the GB Deaf Badminton team to help them prepare for their European Deaf Badminton Championships 2014 in Switzerland. 

The good news, is that funding is already in place to make sure the Awards go ahead as planned over the next four years. Readers of SL First can support the Deaf Sports Personality Awards by visiting for the updated status, Twitter @dspyawards, facebook or email us via

If you are interested in donating or sponsoring the event for DSPY2014, please email to

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Events

13th October 2013