Artistic Talent
Deaf Community

Mary Hare History - Firsts

List of Firsts

Foreword by Webmaster

Mary Hare Grammar School is an extraordinary school. Not only was it set up as a school for the deaf, to enable pupils to pass exams, GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels, but pupils left to gain greater honours. Degrees, PhDs, teachers, governors, priests, footballers, actors. This list, compiled by Elaine Lavery, John Hay, and Gordon Hay, honours those Mary Hare old pupils who have done first times. There are also seconds, thirds, but that can perhaps be listed later, in a Hall of Fame.

Note: Year in bracket is year old pupil joined MHGS

• MHGS First degree: Ralph Drewry (1946) and Patricia Abrahams (1946), graduated from university 1955.

• MHGS First to go to Gallaudet College, USA: Renate Kugel (1946).

• MHGS First teacher of the deaf, USA: David Anthony (1946).

• MHGS First teacher of the deaf, USA - female: Mary Jones (1953) became the first MHGS lady to qualify as a teacher of the deaf in USA.

• MHGS First teacher of the deaf, UK: Anthony Boyce (1950) is the first MHGS born deaf teacher of the deaf to receive recognition by the Department of Education and Science in 1968.

• MHGS First PhD: Robert Casselton (1949), PhD London (Imperial), Metallurgy, in 1972.

• MHGS First PhD - prelingual deaf: Iain Poplett (1965) is the first prelingual profoundly deaf ex-MHGS to get a PhD London (Queen Elizabeth College), Chemistry, in 1979. However, the first profoundly deaf person to get PhD was Bernard L Pitcher at Imperial College in 1939, an old pupil of Dene Hollow.

• MHGS First Oxford University: Alison Graham (1950) was the first MHGS pupil to go to Oxford University.

• MHGS First Deaf Welfare qualification: Christine Kerr nee Arnold (1952) and Valerie Leach nee Aston (1953) were the first ex MHGS pupils to pass the ‘Deaf Welfare Examination Board’ Certificate at the College of Deaf Welfare, North London.

• MHGS First headship - USA: Mary Bavister (1956) is the first old pupil to obtain a superintendantship of an American School for the Deaf (Virginia) in USA, this is equivalent to headship.

• MHGS First headmaster - UK: Mabel Davis nee Hardie (1957) is the first lady head of a British school for the deaf namely Heathlands School.

• MHGS First BSL qualification: Frances Elton (1959) was the first ex-MHGS to pass Durham University British Sign Language Training Course in 1988.

• MHGS First governor - college: John Hay (1961) was the first ex-MHGS Deaf (College) Governor at Donaldson’s College.

• MHGS First PHU job: Alison Berry nee Stewart (1963) is the first old pupil to obtain a job in a unit for Deaf children in a hearing school.

• MHGS First teacher - old pupil at MHGS: Christopher Gwynn (1964) was the first old pupil to return to MHGS as a teacher.

• MHGS First assistant professor: Tilak Ratnanather (1974) the first ex-MHGS to be Assistant Professor, at Johns Hopkins University, USA

• MHGS First D.Phil at Oxford University: Tilak Ratnanather (1974) the first ex-MHGS to get a D.Phil at Oxford University.

• MHGS First PhD at Cambridge University: Hamish Drewry (1976) the first ex-MHGS to get a PhD at Cambridge University.

• MHGS First Professional Audiologist: Alison Lewis nee Gundhill (1975) the first ex-MHGS prelingual profoundly deaf person to qualify as a professional audiologist (British Academy of Audiologists).

Artistic Talent
• MHGS First poet - signing: Dorothy Miles nee Squire (1946), performed signed poetry on TV, and had her poetry books published.

• MHGS First novelist: Violet Foot nee Humphries (1949).

• MHGS First conjurer - magic circle: Douglas Alker (1953) was the first ex-MHGS magician to become a member of the Magic Circle.

• MHGS First dancer - ballet: Anne Lawrence nee Robb (1954) was the first ballet dancer taught by Miss Iris Brooks and won a competition for a devised dance in Newbury.

• MHGS First Krypton Factor: Mary Orange nee Davies (1965) was the first to appear in the popular TV programme ‘The Krypton Factor’ as a competitor in the early 1980’s but did not win.

• MHGS First actor: Jean St.Clair nee Edwards (1966) was the first ex-MHGS actress to take a major role in the Children of Lesser God.

• MHGS First school band: Martin Williams (1969), Robert Nolan (1969), and Mark Shaw (1972) formed the first amateur school music band, Lumpy Custard, in 1975.

• MHGS First on full TV documentary: Claire Dowdican nee Fox (1992) was the first ex MHGS to appear in a full TV documentary, ‘This is My Family’ in 2004 about the arrival of her first baby.

• MHGS First autobiography: Jessica Rees (1975) was the first MHGS autobiographer.

• MHGS First film star: David Bower (1980) was the first ex-MHGS actor to take part in a big film, Four Weddings and a Funeral.

• MHGS First TV presenter - See Hear: Mark Nelson (1990) was the first and youngest See Hear presenter at the age of 12.

• MHGS First Royal College of Music: Ruth Montgomery (1992) the first ex-MHGS to graduate from a Royal College of Music.

• MHGS First musician - professional: Ruth Montgomery (1992) the first ex-MHGS professional musician (flute)

• MHGS First TV presenters - Vee-TV: Rebecca Tadman and Nicola Beech nee Stratton were the first Vee-TV presenters.

• MHGS First peerage titled: Lady Miranda Beatty (1975) the first MHGS pupil with peerage title.

• MHGS First child of celebrity: Karim Wathen (1995) was the first celebrity’s child at MHGS.

• MHGS First with bodyguards: Karim Wathen (1995) was the first to have own personal bodyguards.

Deaf Community
• MHGS First secretary of Breakthrough Trust: Andrew Kenyon (1946).

• MHGS First deaf mountaineering: Irene Hall nee Smith (1948) was one of the founding members of the Deaf Mountaineering Club in 1960.

• MHGS First editor of major deaf periodical: Irene Hall nee Smith (1948) became the first-ever ex-MHGS Deaf female editor of ANY major British Deaf journals after she became Editor of the British Deaf News in 1989.

• MHGS First chief executive - RNID: Douglas Alker (1953) was the first ex-MHGS Chief Executive of the Royal National Institute of the Deaf.

• MHGS First chairman - Federation of Deaf People: Douglas Alker (1953) was the founder and first Chairman of Federation of Deaf People.

• MHGS First - Deaf Broadcasting Council: Austin Reeves (1957) was the first Secretary of the Deaf Broadcasting Council.

• MHGS First British Deaf Association - chairman: Austin Reeves (1957) was the first ex-MHGS Chairman of British Deaf Association.

• MHGS First Scottish Workshop with the Deaf - chairman: John Hay (1961) was the first Chairman of Scottish Workshop with the Deaf.

• MHGS First Scottish Workshop with the Deaf - chairman - female: Lilian Young nee Lawson (1961) was the first ex-MHGS female Chair of Scottish Workshop with the Deaf.

• MHGS First Deaf History International - president: John Hay (1961) was the first ex-MHGS President of Deaf History International.

• MHGS First Scottish Council on Deafness - director: Lilian Young nee Lawson (1961) was the first ex-MHGS Director of Scottish Council on Deafness.

• MHGS First Degree in British Sign Language: Melinda Napier nee Prideaux (1961) is the first ex-MHGS to gain a M.A degree in the teaching of British Sign Language.

• MHGS First Hearing Concern - chair: Larraine Callow nee Oldfield (1963) was the first ex-MHGS Chair of Hearing Concern.

• MHGS First British Deaf Association - Chief Executive: Jeffrey McWhinney (1972) was the first ex-MHGS Chief Executive of the British Deaf Association.

• MHGS First motorcycle: David Humphreys (1950) was the first boy to bring his own motor bike in his last year at MHGS. In fact, he travelled all the way down from his home in Liverpool!

• MHGS First brothers: George and Ralph Drewry (1946).

• MHGS First brothers - Scotland: Peter (1957) and John Hay (1961) were the first Scottish brothers.

• MHGS First brothers - Ireland: Thomas (1995) and Hugh Mulloy (2003) were the first overseas brothers.

• MHGS First sisters: Diane (1951) and Andrea Whitehall (1958).

• MHGS First sisters - Scotland: Norma (1981) and Helga McGilp (1985) were the first Scottish sisters.

• MHGS First sisters - Ireland: Julie Ann (1984) and Heather Ferguson (1986) were the first Irish sisters.

• MHGS First boys from deaf parents: George and Ralph Drewry (1946).

• MHGS First girl from deaf parents: Rosalia Robb nee Baker (1951).

• MHGS First brother and sister: Renate and Stephen Kugel (1946).

• MHGS First brother and sister - Scotland: Graham (1949) and Ann McLellan (1951).

• MHGS First brother and sister - Ireland: Jamie (1989) and Kristin Wilson (1994) were the first Irish brother and sister.

• MHGS First marriage - old pupils: Betty Hyslop nee Bridge (1946), in autumn 1952.

• MHGS First marriage - teachers: Mr. Raymond Hill (1949) and Miss R. Buckingham (1949) were the first MHGS teachers to marry to each other at Easter 1951.

• MHGS First marriage - teacher & old pupil: Patricia Morris (1959) was the first old pupil to marry a MHGS teacher, Mr. Peter Abell.

• MHGS First second generation: Betty Hyslop nee Bridge (1946) and Judith Hyslop (1966).

• MHGS First married couple: Audrey Petiffer (1949) and Ronald Sutton (1951), married 22 December 1956.

• MHGS First marriage - overseas: Robert Hofschroer (1963) and Shirley Priest (1963) were the first ex-MHGS to marry overseas, Australia in 1975.

• MHGS First marriage - Burwoodian: Janet Anscombe (1955) is the first ex-MHGS to marry a Burwoodian (Burwood Park School), John Pearson in 12 March 1966.

• MHGS First children - 2: David Hirshman (1950) was the first old pupil parent to have two children at MHGS during the same period.

• MHGS First children - 4: Fiona Cooke nee Dunlop (1962) is the first to have 4 children at MHGS.

• MHGS First twins: David and Alan Paull (1958) were the first twins.

• MHGS First married couple - second generation: David Paull (1958) and Joyce Lawson (1964) were the first wedded couple to have a second generation, Victoria Paull (1990).

• MHGS First change of gender: John Stuart (1965) is the first old pupil to go through a change of gender in 2000 and changed name to Joanna Stuart.

• MHGS First pupil’s father on staff: Philippa Rees (1977) and Andrew Rees (1978) were the first ex MHGS whose father, Clive Rees, was on the MHGS teaching staff.

• MHGS First MBE - old pupil: Austin Reeves (1957-1964) was the first ex-MHGS to receive an MBE in 1995, for services to deaf people in broadcasting.

• MHGS First OBE - staff: Mr. Raymond Askew, Principal, the first member of staff to be awarded OBE, at his retirement in 1973, for services to deaf education.

• MHGS First parish councillor: Colin Robb (1950) is the first MHGS old pupil to be co-opted onto the local Parish Council, and immediately be nominated as the chairman of the Freckleton Parish Plan Committee, Lancs, (a separate organisation to determine the future of the village) and the Freckleton Parish Council Communications Committee in 2003.

• MHGS First fellowship: Anthony Boyce (1950) is the first ex-MHGS to receive the Fellow of Gemmological Society award in 1972. (Gemmology is the study of gems and precious stones, such as diamonds, emeralds, garnets.)

• MHGS First* fellowship: Colin Robb (1950) elected as a Fellow of Institution of Mining Materials and Materials (formally the Institution of Metallurgists) and automatically be elected as a C Eng in 1981.

• MHGS First technical who’s who’s: Colin Robb (1950) listed in Who's Who of British Engineers 1982.

• MHGS First technical author: Colin Robb (1950) published a technical handbook, materials data in 1987. Published in many languages, including Japanese.

• MHGS First company director: Patrick Daly (1954) is the first MHGS deaf Company director, running a scrap metal business in the Gallowgate district of Glasgow.

• MHGS First pub manager: Jennifer Harmer nee Dickens (1955) was the first ex-MHGS to achieve such a dream running at her family pub called 'The Snooty Fox' in the Cumbrian Lakeland village of Uldale.

• MHGS First mental health nurse: Susan Eagling nee Nash (1964) is the very first ex-MHGS Registered Mental Health Nurse in August 2003.

• MHGS First dentist: Christopher Lehfeldt (1972) is the first ex-MHGS graduate in dentistry and sets up his own practice.

• MHGS First layreader: Elaine Lavery nee Bodker (1951) is the first Deaf female Church of England Layreader in 1980.

• MHGS First priest: Michael Sabell (1954) was the first old pupil to be ordained as a priest.

• MHGS First minister - female: Gaynor Turner (1957) was the first MHGS Lady to be ordained in the Deaf Ministry.

• MHGS First officer - Salvation Army: Julian Rowley, who attended the school between 1974 & 1980, was the first MHGS old pupil to be commissioned as a Salvation Army Officer in 1992.

• MHGS First head boy & head girl: George Drewry (1946) and Betty Bridge (1946).

• MHGS First old pupil to work at Mary Hare: Wendy Earl (1954) was the first old pupil to return to MHGS as an assistant matron.

• MHGS First swimming pool - first to use: Hazel Steven (1964) was the first pupil to jump into the school’s new swimming pool in 1971.

• MHGS First from Republic of Ireland: Emma Poynton (1985) the first pupil from the Republic of Ireland.

• MHGS First from Netherlands: Peter Moran (1991) was the first MHGS from the Netherlands.

• MHGS First from Belgium: Emlyn Burton (1996) was the first MHGS from Belgium.

• MHGS First tennis - international: Eleanor Herd nee Main (1949) and Paul Kenward (1960) were the first ex-MHGS players for the British Tennis Team taking part in the 3rd European Tennis Championships held in Paris, 1975. Both brought home medals, a gold for ladies doubles and a bronze for men’s doubles respectively.

• MHGS First chess: Anthony Boyce (1950) is the first ex-MHGS to become the President of the International Committee of Silent Chess.

• MHGS First football - deaf international: David Chaplow (1950) was the first ex-MHGS footballer to represent England in home internationals for the British Deaf Amateur Sports Association.

• MHGS First medallists - world deaf games: David Chaplow (1950) was the first ex-MHGS silver medallist in football in Deaf World Games, Washington, 1965. Diana Hodgetts nee Izzard (1953) was the first ex MHGS silver and bronze medallists in tennis in Deaf World Games, Washington, 1965.

• MHGS First football - national council: Pauline Leonard nee Berrisford (1952) was the first ex MHGS committee member of the English Deaf Football Council.

• MHGS First football - national council chairman: Michael Webster (1956) was the first ex MHGS Chairman of English Deaf Football Council.

• MHGS First football - manager: Alan Paull (1958) was the first MHGS Secretary of the English Deaf Football Council, and Manager of the national side.

• MHGS First football - coach: Douglas Alker (1953)

• MHGS First English Deaf Sports Association - committee: Malcolm Crookes (1953) was the first ex-MHGS Secretary of English Deaf Sports Council in conjunction with the British Deaf Sports Council.

• MHGS First football - referee: Geoffrey Hillier (1954) was the first ex-MHGS football referee.

• MHGS First cricket - school century: Michael Andersson (1955) was the first batsman to reach a century in MHGS cricket match.

• MHGS First World Deaf Games - while at school: Davina Burgess nee Pritchard (1955) and Jennifer Harmer nee Dickens (1955) were the first pupils to be selected whilst still at school for the English Swimming Team and Athletics Team respectively for the World Deaf Games in Finland in 1961.

• MHGS First Trampolining - national: Michael Brown (1963) became the first boy to obtain the British Trampoline Federation Bronze Award.

• MHGS First swimming - gala: Janet Durbidge nee Freestone (1969), Linda Day nee Ball (1969), Alison Willett (1968), and Judith McCready (1970) were the first swimmers to participate in the first Swimming Gala against St. Gabriels School, Newbury and won.

• MHGS First Deaflympics - medals: David Chaplow (Football) Silver medal, David Izzard (Tennis) 2 Bronze and 1 Silver Medal in 3 events. Deaflympics 1995 Washington USA.

• MHGS First Deaflympics - gold medal: Richard Pearce (Athletics 800m), Christopher Gwynn, John Galbraith, and Martin Willis (Football). Andrew Rees (Swimming) 2 gold medals. Deaflympics 1989 Christchurch, New Zealand .

• MHGS First Deaflympics - team manager: Sharon Hirshman (1981) was the first Great Britain Ladies Manager.

• MHGS First deaf football club - chair - female: Jennifer Beech (1983) was the first (and first female) ex-MHGS to become a Chair of a Deaf football club. (Black Country Deaf F.C., 2001-2003).

• MHGS First deaf football club - chair - male: Leo Mansell (1984) was the first male ex-MHGS to become a Chair of a Deaf football club.

• MHGS First football - steward: Victoria Paull-Martin nee Paull (1990) was the first ex-MHGS steward for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club home matches.

• MHGS First rugby - international deaf: Anthony Troy (1963) - was the first ex-MHGS rugby player to be called into Wales Deaf squad for the international game against New Zealand Deaf R.U. in 1998.

• MHGS First swimming - referee: Ian Allchin (1971) - was the first ex-MHGS pupil to become a fully qualified swimming referee in 2007.

• MHGS First freemason: David Moulding (1948) became the first ex MHGS Freemason.

• MHGS First call up: Alan Taylor (1949) was the first Mary Hare pupil to be called up for National Service.

• MHGS First freemason - master of lodge: John Harmsworth (1955) is the first ex-MHGS profoundly Deaf Master of a Masonic Lodge.

• MHGS First owner of hearing dog: Jenny Harmer nee Dickens (1955) was the first ex-MHGS owner of the Hearing Dog for the Deaf.

• MHGS First deed poll: David Townsend (1970) is the first old pupil to change his name legally by deed poll in 1995 to Kreb Dragonrider.

• MHGS First Chief Scout’s Award: Nick Brookes (1975) was the first ever person at MHGS to obtain the Chief Scout’s Award.

• MHGS First cochlear transplant: Jessica Rees (1975) was the first pupil to get a cochlear implant.