WHO ARE YA? Lorri Wilson, Manchester United & Sign4all Ltd

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Lorri Wilson – Communication is the key

1) Who are ya? 

Lorri Wilson, age 53 but I look 35!

2) Who do you support? 

That’s a hard question. When I was little I supported City. Now I work for the Reds, it has to be United!

3) What was your first game?

Manchester City in the 70’s.

4) What do you do for a job?

Joint company Director, Sign4Sport Ltd (about to change to Sign4all Ltd), which is a freelance company to sign BSL to deaf and hard of hearing in the sporting world of football.

Originally, I worked in a building society and had a deaf customer, I felt utterly embarrassed that I couldn’t communicate, so I went on to learn basic sign language and carried on from there. I then went on to work in the education services for visually impaired and hearing impaired in Stockport,  This is where I met a colleague who introduced me to Man Utd as she was working there for an hour a week. She then decided to emigrate and asked me to take over her position. After working there I also gained a good name for being reliable and good at what I do, so word got around and other football clubs asked me to help. The work load was getting far too much and, whilst at Utd, I met my business partner, Abdel, and we set up ‘Sign4Sport Ltd’.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

At present I work for Manchester United, but this has no connection with my own company – I try to keep them separate,

6) How did you get into it?

I realised that there was no-one who signed for the deaf in sport. All communicators, interpreters et al wanted to work in the law, hospitals, courts etc. I loved the Idea of working with and in football and I wanted to dedicate as much time to it as possible, making sure that footballers and coaches could communicate with each other via me or another. ‘Football speak’ is hard enough to understand for the hearing, so can you image what it’s like for anyone who has a hearing loss!

7) What do you get out of it?

Passion for the job and the satisfaction of helping people communicate.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Just go for it. You have to love people, and the sport. It’s a hard concept to understand, but you need to have the mentality of wanting to stand around outside when it’s cold and wet on horrid days at a match, especially if you don’t enjoy the game.  Expect to get muddy too!

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Nothing, as I’ve found my passion in life. This is the best job in the world! Not the best paid by any means, but very rewarding in other ways.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Too many to mention… but, for skill, would have to be Cantona. Others include Lionel Messi and David Beckham for their looks and Ryan Giggs for politeness and humbleness.

WHO ARE YA? Vicki Galt, DeaFFF NW

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1) Who are ya?

Vicki Galt, 42, Lancaster

2) Who do you support?

Long term – Nottingham Forest – I was born next to the ground! [I used to live a five-minute walk away from it – GM]

Now – Morecambe FC (as I hire the pitch there for our deaf Football Club), and Man Utd as my sons are big fans!

3) What was your first game?

Nottingham Forest v – I can’t remember!

It was in 1986/87 and I went along with the St John’s ambulance. I just remember hoping someone needed first aid on their knees!

4) What do you do for a job?

I used to be a nurse in intensive care but then I had three kids – two of which are deaf.

I’ve set up and run various deaf and special needs groups. I have recently set up one in Lancaster, but I’ve now moved on to voluntarily creating deaf sports groups (especially football) throughout the North West for deaf kids to play competitively alongside their peers – DeaFFF NW.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

No, apart from the deaf sports clubs.

6) How did you get into it?

My eldest came home from grassroots football and said that after a year they still weren’t including him and he still didn’t really know anyone there, despite the club receiving deaf awareness training and support being given! So, I subsequently set up football training for deaf kids in Lancaster and Morecambe.

7) What do you get out of it?

I get the satisfaction of seeing my boys play with their deaf mates in sports that they want to participate in, plus the rewards from organising events, fundraising and socialising with other deaf families in the area and around the region.

I just wish that the FA would recognise that the deaf want to play deaf football not pan disability football as they don’t have a physical disability themselves!

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Don’t just start a group yourself without speaking to someone that knows the kids and their needs first – don’t get into it without the involvement of others as the kids won’t come!

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

After the fight for funding, first with the training and now with DeaFFF NW, I would have secured the funding first in hindsight, but then I may not have got any and the groups wouldn’t exist!

I’ve only just secured funding as the first year of DeaFFF NW was a trial to see what numbers would attend – upwards of 50 a session at times! Now, I have some sponsorship for venues and BSL interpreters.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

I would love to meet Karen Brady – she worked in football proving that women could make it in the profession. If I could develop DeaFFF NW the way she developed her club I would be really pleased.

David Beckham has used his name for fundraising and I would love some advice from him too!

Playerwise, it would have to be Peter Shilton; or an unknown to you all but well known to me – Adam Thomas! He is deaf and played for us at Morecambe Deaf FC when he moved up here from Plymouth. He has since gone on to Deaf Man Utd and England Deaf Futsal where he was picked for the Euro qualifiers in Oslo.

That shows that deaf kids can become football stars, and he came from our grassroots deaf squad!

Many thanks, Vicki. All the best with your initiatives.

See www.ndcs.org.uk for more information.