Heather Jackson Award 2021 – Lidia Best


The Heather Jackson Award is made annually to a deafened person who has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the welfare and opportunity of deafened people.  Heather was NADP’s Chairman until we lost her to cancer in 2007 after a short illness at the age of 58.  A charismatic leader, she was not only a guiding force for NADP but was also a trainer on the residential courses at the LINK Centre (now Hearing Link) and Chairman of the CACDP (now Signature) Deaf Awareness Committee and CACDP’s Vice Chairman.  All three charities are involved in the award.

We are very happy to announce that Lidia Best has been voted to receive the Heather Jackson Award for this year.  Lidia has been hard of hearing since the age of twelve but lost her hearing completely in 2008.  She received a cochlear implant the following year.  Since then she has been proactive in ensuring the needs of deafened people are heard.  She became Chair of NADP in 2014, a position she currently holds and has made sure NADP is at the forefront of campaigning for deafened people.  In 2020 she led NADP into arranging a World Hearing Day in Parliament alongside NADP’s President, Lillian Greenwood, attended by over fifty MPs.  Lidia sits on the Cochlear Implant Working Group and has also campaigned strongly for captioned telephony in the UK and for better employment opportunities for deafened people.  She has written several articles on deafness and recently started her own blog.  Lidia is keen on new technology and has ensured NADP maintained an active presence through the pandemic by means of both social media and virtual meetings and webinars on Zoom.


It is not just in the UK that Lidia is active on behalf of deafened people.  Lidia is Polish by birth and remains involved with deafness issues in that country.  She has always had a keen interest in European affairs and was Vice President of the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHoH) from 2010-2020 and has recently been appointed its President, a great honour.  She was instrumental in creating the Essen declaration in 2014 which calls for European countries to ensure hard of hearing people are offered hearing aids and assistive devices.  She is an Expert Advisor at the ICT Experts Group at the European Disability Forum. And with the International Telecommunications Union has created new standards for remote captioning.  She has worked with the European Association of Hearing Aid Professionals to ensure aids are properly fitted.  All this while pursuing a career as a garment technologist and bringing up a family.  For all these reasons and more Lidia is a very worthy winner of the Heather Jackson Award

This year we are for the first time not just announcing the overall winner of the Heather Jackson Award but two other people from among the nominees who were runners up.  We wanted to do this to show how many dedicated people worthy of the Award there are.  The two runners up for 2021 are Shona Hudson and Gill Pestell.

Shona Hudson has been a volunteer for Hearing Link for a number of years.  She has facilitated many HL Self Management Programmes, sharing her own experiences with others with great honesty.  She works as a Community Support Volunteer for HL and is a founder member and Trustee of the Central England Lipreading Support Trust.  She recently appeared in a video for the Activity Alliance about her experiences as a deafened cyclist, which was also featured in the Metro Magazine.  She is a Breeze Champion for the British Cycling and HSBC Breeze project.  Shona is inspirational as a role model for deafened people, both in her drive to establish lipreading classes and encouraging more deaf women to participate in cycling.

Gill Pestell has volunteered with HL for over twenty years and has been involved in setting up hard of hearing support groups in the UK and Florida, plus seminars and awareness days.  She has been active for sixty years, including chairing the Herts League of the Hard of Hearing.  She also helped to set up the Hertfordshire Hearing Advisory Service.  Gill was one of the pioneer Outreach volunteers for HL, helping develop the role to that of Community Support Volunteer, as it is now known.  She is also a long-standing member of NADP and has carried out several projects as a volunteer for them, including an accessibility survey of the Historic Dockyard in Chatham.  ”.  Gill recently won a competition to paint an impression of the Roman bridge at Rochester, Kent.  Typically she donated her prize money to Hearing Link.  Her watercolour picture featured in the Channel 5 series “Walking Britain’s Roman Roads”.  Gill’s philosophy is “to get involved as much as possible, keep up to date, and try and stay positive”.