Originally coming from Liverpool and being partially deaf, Diane was sent to Birkdale School for Deaf Children in Southport and later attended the Mary Hare Grammar School in Newbury. After leaving school, she went to live in Oxford which was followed by her meeting and marrying Andrew Kenyon who is the other joint Honorary President of Deaf Aspirations. On taking a course in fashion modelling, she became one of London’s top ten catwalk models, modelling for the House of Dior, Fortnum and Mason, Saks of Piccadilly, and also modelled clothes by Yves St Laurent whom she met several times.
Many of her deaf friends at the time remained detached from any real communication between deaf and hearing people, were not realising their true potential in many fields, and were often regarded as second class citizens. As a result of this, a “Group” of deaf and hearing people was formed which later was called “Breakthrough”. Out of this original Group grew a whole network of groups and projects across the country, conceived and run by deaf people, with an emphasis on integration between deaf and hearing people which allowed deaf people to contribute, reach their potential, and show their amazing abilities. Diane & Andrew played a pivotal role in setting up the Breakthrough (Deaf/Hearing) Integration Trust (now known as Deaf Plus) in 1971 and then steering its success for the next 30 years until their retirement. To this day, she still gives talks on hearing loss, behaviours that allow deaf people access to real life experiences & opportunities;and talks on being a fashion model in the early ‘60’s.She is a wonderful role model and Deaf Aspirations is delighted and proud that she is one of their Joint Honorary Presidents.
Andrew was born in Accrington in 1930 to a father who was a coal miner and mother who had previously worked in the cotton mills. At the age of 9, he contracted meningitis with the result that he lost his hearing. During the war, he was placed in an institutionalised School for the “Deaf and Dumb”. He later won a place at the Mary Hare Grammar School for the Deaf; on leaving school, he went onto work for the Electricity Board in the Accounts Department where he obtained his ACCA examinations. On passing his Civil Service exams, he later worked for the Post Office. With the inspiration of Denis Uttley, Andrew & Diane set up awareness-raising holidays for deaf and hearing families at Thorpeness. This was followed by the setting up in 1971 of the Breakthrough Trust with support from the Gulbenkian Foundation and Chase Charity. For the next 20 years, the development of this inspirational charitable company is well documented. In 1985, Andrew was instrumental in setting up EuroAction which involved other member states and enabled deaf and hearing people to participate in some inspiring and inclusive European projects. Deaf Aspirations is very honoured to have him as one of their Honorary Joint Presidents. He has dedicated his life to breaking down barriers between deaf and hearing and is a great role model.