A Network Rail community relations executive has helped to inspire young people from across Essex with hearing loss, when he gave a presentation to children at St Clere’s school in Stanford-Le-Hope this week.
Paul Lennon, who has been deaf since birth, gave the presentation at the school’s Deaf Role Model conference on Wednesday 23 March, which was communicated to the children in British Sign Language.
Paul’s role in the communications team at Network Rail includes investigating queries and complaints from members of the public, councillors, MPs and passengers, as well as holding community engagement events in the run-up to planned improvement works. Paul uses a variety of ways to communicate including using an interpreter and email.
With a law degree under his belt, Paul came to work at Network Rail in February 2015 after deciding that he wanted a job in a mainstream environment, having previously worked for a charity supporting deaf people and having been a chef.
As well as trying to inspire the children to reach their career goals, Paul also wanted to use this opportunity to educate them on the dangers of the railway and how to stay safe, something that is very important to everyone working at Network Rail.
Paul said: “I wanted to share my experience with these young people to help them think about what they might want to do in the future. I have always been told that I wouldn’t be able to do this job or that job, and I think people wanted me to lower my expectations. But I told everyone that that nothing is impossible, as long as you are prepared to work hard enough.
“It is also important that people stay safe when using the railway, and people who have hearing problems are at a greater risk. Being here today has also given me the opportunity to raise awareness of the dangers of the railway and help keep young people safe.”
Paul Newbury, deaf instructor for British Sign Language from St Clere’s School, said: “We were delighted that Paul was able to join us at our Deaf Role Model Conference to share his experience with our deaf students. His presentation brought two important elements that are essential to young deaf children; that it is acceptable to have barriers throughout their upbringing and how to overcome them, and the importance of rail safely. The session was not only very inspiring but featured powerful safety messages.”
Paul hopes that his diverse experience and success story will leave a real impression on the children, encouraging them to always aim high and focus on what they can do – not what they can’t.
“I wanted to show them that they can achieve the same things others can – the only thing we can’t do is hear and my point to the children was if you work hard and don’t give up, you can achieve.”
Find out more and watch Paul’s presentation at www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/news/deaf-railway-executive-offers-inspiration-to-regions-children.