Year 10 student Molly will be attending the glittering Devon Performance awards tonight after being nominated for Junior Performer of the Year.

Expressive Arts Teacher, Deb Thomas, is also up for an award in the category of Outstanding Contribution to Artistic Performance in Education.

For the last 12 months Exeter Deaf Academy has been working with Paddleboat Theatre Company to create an enriched production of ‘A Little Man’s Holiday’ using non-verbal communication and British Sign Language, which is also up for nomination at the Performance Awards hosted by Judi Spiers and Paul Nero.

Artistic Director of PaddleBoat Theatre Company, Katy Dash, nominated Deb and Molly. Katy said, “We felt that Deb Thomas should be recognised for the fantastic and creative work she does and Molly as she is an exceptional performer. They both have given an amazing contribution to the arts and Exeter Deaf Academy is always looking to push the boundaries. What the school does is often behind closed doors and we wanted Devon to be aware of all the outstanding work that goes on.”

Deb said, “It’s a lovely surprise to be a finalist. Drama is a wonderful way for Deaf students to access a deeper understanding of English so they can develop their understanding of texts further and explore emotions and feelings in a different environment. It’s an honour for that work to be recognised.”

Molly’s tutor, Helen Childs, said, “I’d like to wish both Molly and Deb the best of luck at tonight’s awards. Their work and enthusiasm, along with other staff, students and PaddleBoat Theatre have created a drama curriculum that is engaging, educational and an example other schools should be looking to.”

Molly discovered her acting talent when she started here a year ago. She excelled in drama and recently won the UK wide National Deaf Children’s Society’s Raising the Bar competition in June.

Molly’s mum, Beth Thomas, said, “As you can imagine we are all thrilled that Molly has been nominated and are really proud that she has been named top three junior performer in Devon. To see the confidence that Molly has whilst acting and performing is a joy to watch and something we hope she might pursue in the future as a career. Attending the awards with Molly and seeing her hard work celebrated will be fantastic and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Katy added, “Molly has grown and improved so much throughout the year we have been working together. She is now a role model and we hope she will inspire the Year 7, 8 and 9 students who are coming up behind her. We wish both Molly and Deb the best of luck and we can’t wait to enjoy the awards evening with them tonight.”

We are a charity that runs a specialist school and college in a bilingual English and British Sign Language (BSL) environment for Deaf young people aged 4-24. Our BSL bilingual community gives Deaf young people a sense of belonging as they learn and develop their own language skills and journey towards independence and fulfilling their own potential.