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 Margaret du Feu has been voted to receive the Heather Jackson Award for this year. Margaret qualified in medicine at New Hall Cambridge and The London Hospital. She started training in psychiatry after the birth of her daughter, Frances, in 1983. In 1991 she was appointed in Birmingham to develop the third service in England (after Manchester and London) for Mental Health and Deafness. In 2003 she started working half the week in Northern Ireland and in 2005 left Birmingham to include the Republic of Ireland in her work.
Starting in medical school, Margaret became progressively deafened by cochlear otosclerosis and is now profoundly deaf. She had a cochlear implant in 1999. In 2010 Margaret retired from UK NHS and in January 2011 started working for the voluntary organisation ‘Deafhear’ which has offices all over Ireland. In 2014, Margaret was the recipient of an OBE for her services to deaf people in Northern Ireland. This was presented by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
In the same year, Margaret co-authored a book with Cathy Chovaz called ‘Mental Health and Deafness’ which focuses on the current issues and concerns of mental health of deaf individuals.
On 1st March 2016, Margaret presented at the Deaf Nest Conference, just one of many appearances at keynote events and conferences over the years. The ‘Assessing and Changing Health Care Professionals Attitudes and Knowledge of Deafness’ discussion allowed Margaret to discuss the current need for higher recognition and awareness from healthcare professionals who work closely with deaf individuals.
Margaret was a Trustee of RNID (now Action on Hearing Loss) from 1996-2001, and also a Trustee of Hearing Link from 2005-2007. She has been a Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board member and had an active involvement in the European Society for Mental Health and Deafness, involved in the organisation of the World Mental Health and Deafness congress in Belfast 2014
Margaret believes that the experiences of patients should benefit others so that the cycle of early deprivation and later mental distress can be broken. Therefore, although she has collaborated in academic research on schizophrenia in deaf people, her main focus is on increasing awareness of mental health issues for deaf people, and on teaching mental health professionals about deafness. Margaret has used both her personal and professional life experiences to framework much of her work. She really is an inspiration and continues to strive for improvement in the sector. Deaf individuals as a whole and those who face mental health issues really can take a lot of encouragement from her life’s work.
The Heather Jackson Award is an opportunity to acknowledge Margaret’s hard work and commitment and to thank her.
Pictures from the conference are now displayed on the events page.