A Kirkcudbright man is proud to have made history by becoming the first ever deaf Conservative Party member elected in the UK and using British sign language in politics.
John Denerley, who has run the wildlife centre in Kirkcudbright for the past 19 years, was one of three councillors elected to serve the Dee and Glenkens ward in this month’s Dumfries and Galloway Council elections.
Having been a member of the Conservative Party for 25 years, the 54-year-old was one of 16 Tories who gained a seat on the council.
John has a personal assistant who was with him at the election count on May 5 and will be supporting him in his councillor duties.
Following his election, John stated: “I am a conservationist, focussing on native fauna and flora in Dumfries and Galloway.
“All my life I have been interested in politics. I believe I have the skills and experiences from my time here and will work with and service the people of Dee and Glenkens to the best of my ability for the next five years.
“It is of great privilege to be the first-ever deaf Conservative Party member elected in the UK using British Sign Language (BSL) in politics.
“I feel honoured and hope I can be a positive role model for other deaf people, whether it be in politics or any dream they may have.”
Asked about his priorities for serving people in the Dee and Glenkens ward, John responded: “Keeping local public services within the hands of the local community, improving vital local broadband and mobile coverage, as well as upgrading the A75, helping local farming, agricultural and tourism industries get the support they deserve.
“After the damaging effects of Covid-19 on communities and public services, I want to help get Dee and Glenkens back on track and will work hard for local residents.”
John has been profoundly deaf since his birth in Mobberley, Cheshire, with British sign language becoming his native language.
Representing the deaf community at a local and national level, John has been an advocacy campaigner and a lifelong member of the British Deaf Association (BDA).
After moving to Scotland, he became a convener of the Scottish Council on Deafness (SCoD), chairman of the Dumfries and Galloway Society for the Deaf, and regularly attends the cross-party group on deafness to represent the interests of deaf and deaf-blind people to the Scottish Parliament.