Sign language expert Billy recognised for his work

Former chef turned sign language expert "by accident", Billy Docherty has been shorlisted for one of the most prestigious accolades his profession can give.

Billy Docherty, 38, a transition co-ordinator at Donaldson's School for the Deaf in Linlithgow, is one of three people up for the Joseph Maitland Robinson Award at this year's Signature Annual Awards.

He is also the only Scot to be recognised in the Outstanding Achievement category.

Hide Ad

Mr Docherty, from Knightsridge in Livingston, has been flying the flag for excellence in deaf communication for eight years after he was forced to give up his career as a chef following a back injury.

He damaged his spine while moving a cooker and spent four years on crutches after being told he would never walk or work again despite four painful operations. He still suffers from agonising back pain to this day.

The father-of-two decided to ignore the diagnosis and "went back to school", but his path could have taken another route when he arrived at the crossroads of his life.

He said: "I got into this career by accident. I went back to school to do a course in accounts and business management but I was only available to attend on a Tuesday night, which was the night the (British) Sign Language (BSL] course was on.

"I decided to do it as a hobby or something that would look good on a CV but the tutor, Alan Sanders, was an amazing guy, really enthusiastic, and it sparked an interest in me and I kept doing more stages."

In his time at the school he has been the driving force behind a number of successful initiatives, particularly the Donaldson's award-winning Transition Project, which supports young deaf and hard of hearing people to access further education and employment.

Hide Ad

He added: "I deal with young people who have no confidence or have fallen out of the system.

"Communication is an adult problem as young people will overcome it. They will work out ways to deal it and a lot of my work is about breaking down barriers."

Hide Ad

Signature, the charity that champions excellence in communication with deaf people, hosts the awards to recognise and reward those who have made, in their own way, a significant contribution for a society in which deaf and deaf-blind people have full access.

Janice MacNeill, principal of Donaldson's, said: "Although Billy has only worked within the deaf community for a short time, he has been accepted and admired by its members."

Mr Docherty has also written a play, The Power Of Silence, to raise awareness of the barriers faced by the hard of hearing. The show will run at Falkirk Town Hall on September 8 and 9.

Related topics: