Mr. Herbert Frederick Blunden (1905-1999)

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Forwarded by Sarah Bown/John Hay

Welfare worker for the Deaf

By John Walker

Herbert Blunden was born hearing in 1905 until he became deaf at 16 years of age. He could have gone to a school for the deaf but, by that age, it was too late. He was advised to learn how to lipread by his doctor at St. Thomas and was taught by a lady there.

His parents had different reactions to his deafness:

"My mother accepted it all. But there was no sympathy from my father. He said I could hear if I wanted to. Later when I became fully deaf, he accepted it and he would come to watch me playing billiards at the deaf club."

Herbert was particularly good at sport, including billiards, cricket, snooker; deaf sport was more prevalent then. When he was 19 years, he went to Brussels for the Deaf games (1924).

During the war, he worked in a piano factory but most of his peers were conscripted into the army; he was the only one left. He was promptly promoted to foreman and took charge of the factory. When his workmates returned, he lost his position; "when the war ended, I asked the manager if I could still be foreman, but he said I could not because I was deaf." 

Herbert and his wife, Muriel (also deaf), became welfare workers for the Deaf community and were popular figures in Sussex: "they were very gentle people, very approachable", said Mary Wilson. "They supported my parents a lot when I was growing up."

Towards the end of his life, Muriel passed away some 15 years earlier, he gradually lost his sight, although he didn't seem to mind. His final resting days were at the RNIB's Wavetree House. He passed away at the age of 94, in 1999.

Sources

"Man of the Moment", Disability Now publication, December 1999.

Comments from Mary Wilson and Sarah Bown.

This page was added on 20/09/2010.

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