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New BDA CEO: Simon Wilkinson-Blake

bdaceo.jpgThe BDA has appointed Simon Wilkinson-Blake as their new CEO. Simon was previously CEO of the British Motorcycle Federation and Director of RiderConnect.

Their new Cultural Development Officer (CDO) for Scotland is Mark MacQueen, with Sue Barry as the NI CDO.

A 100% Deaf board has obviously appointed a hearing CEO here. Hearing allies, especially with outside connections are important and powerful, however should they take a leadership role? Is the position of CEO indeed a leadership role, or do they take on a day to day administrative stance at wider led Deaf strategic direction?

Ask the Readers:
What do you think of hearing appointments? Would it ever be acceptable for a women's organisation to be led by a man, a black organisation led by a white person? Could this be a statement by the BDA that a glass ceiling does exist in the UK, and there's no-one Deaf suitably qualified? Does finances ever come before political statements? Can the two co-exist? Drop us your thoughts in the comments.

Photo credit: Simon's page on Just Giving

Comments (10)

I'm guessing that the best person for the job has been recruited although it would have been more inspirational had a Deaf person been recruited. Looking at the recent history of the BDA - it really needs someone who can turn its fortunes and start raising the profile of the Deaf Community as well as the BDA. Who knows as perhaps we need to start educating people that it is possible to achieve an high powered job but you really do need qualifications and experience. After all to sail a boat - we learn to row at first? I'm happy to see what Simon W-B can do for the BDA and its up to us Deafies to make it clear whether we are happy or not with its future progress. I, for one, would like to see national unity of the Deaf Community again - like when we all marched for BSL recognition.

I understand that sometimes you have to do what is necessary to save an organisation, but the question is, will this be an opportunity to groom a Deaf person for the role in the future? It's no point rescuing an organisation to represent Deaf people, if a hearing person is gonna lead.

As the BDA's flagship is to promote the inclusion of BSL in all aspects of life - can Simon follow BSL?


I guess Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, deafened people have lost the meaning to show respect and confidence towards other deafies struggling hard at times to make things happens for themselves with support lacking or fecked up or trying to work with others. It is a Thatcherite syndrome we are currently living in whereby it’s a “me” “me” “me” I wanna wanna get lost you …. You can see some deaf professional in this too…
Maybe that is why we have a hearie in place to make a go of things instead of having a deafie in place in case it gets attacked and nothing can get done for the well being BDA.

I joined the BDA as a life-member less than a year ago and one of the main reasons was because they proudly proclaimed to be deaf-run. I've a bloody good mind to ask for my money back now that they fail to live up to that advertising.

The only thing that is stopping me is the possibility that Mr Wilkinson-Blake will shortly do the right thing and express both his regret that a deaf person was not appointed and his determination to train up deaf people to assume their rightful place at the top of their own organisations.

Everybody thinks it's right that women lead women's organisations. Everybody thinks it's right that black people run black people's organisations. Why are we seen as subordinate to other groups? Are the people who defend that the best people to champion our interests?

So Tim, will you be leading a Deaf Pres... CEO campaign then?

Tim - actually I found it interesting...if you looked up Simon's previous roles - one of where he was the CEO for British Motorcycle Federation, he was credited for turning the BMF into a strong member-led organisation.

If Simon could do the same with BDA, then this would be excellent - turning it into a strong member-led organisation, where his voice would only reflect that of the members and no more than that.

On the other hand - BDA = deaf run. Yes the CEO's a hearie...BUT...unlike That Other Organisation *cough* RNID *cough* - BDA does stand by what they say...their SMT team does have deafies in it, as is their Board and their Chairman. Furthermore prior to Simon starting as the CEO, Richard Jones (a deafie from Wales) was the most senior as the managing director.

So BDA does include deafies in the top levels and follow decisions by them. So I don't mind Simon being a hearie if he's going to make BDA a stronger member-led organisation. That I look forward to if that's one of the vision.

sometimes it would be nice to have an outsider coming in and sort out the BDA without being "affected" by the politics going on (and left behind) during the Chairman Alker's reign.

Maybe he ll be there for a short period of time say one year maybe 2 years then the BDA will find enough money to employ a full time CEO and a more generous contract - that way it will attract more applications from our deaf leaders - I can think of many in the UK's deaf community who would make excellent BDA ceo's.

Well there's obviously mixed feelings regarding the appointment of a "hearie" as our CEO.
But what a choice!
I have been a member of the British Motorcyclists (not Motorcycle BTW) Federation for more years than I care to remember. During the time that Mr Wilkinson-Blake was CEO, membership has just about halved! (that's from a starting point of 140,000!!) Its finances have gone from extremely healthy to verging on destitute and in a press article (Motor Cycle News - 2007) - his only explanation of why he was being made redundant was - it''s because I'm a homosexual!!. - nothing to do with failing to organise the finances properly then?
I fear the worst - but am desperately trying to see the bright side.


The BDA have had hearie COEs in the past and they have been quite successful once equipped with BSL, I am quite sure Simon will do a good job in promoting the BDA, so good wishes for the future.

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