Addenbrooke’s staff take ‘hands on’ approach to spread Christmas cheer

03 December 2019
Staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital have proved they are a dab hand when it comes to sharing Christmas cheer with deaf and partially sighted people.

Charlene Newman, healthcare assistant and apprentice nurse for the Paediatric Recovery is pictured centre with Abbie Jarvis, Digital Officer (left) and Alice Cooper (right), a student in the Clinical Educational Support Team.A 60-strong team, including theatre staff, board directors, play therapists and chaplains, have all learned British Sign Language so they can sign a festive carol to patients with special needs.

Their heart-warming video performance of the Shakin’ Stevens hit Merry Christmas Everyone was released today.

The idea was the brainchild of Charlene Newman, healthcare assistant and apprentice nurse for the Paediatric Recovery.

Charlene said: “I used to work in a school with children with special needs so I decided to learn British Sign Language because I wanted to be able to better communicate with them.

“As part of my training I tried to catch a bus using just sign language – but the driver basically chucked me off. It made me realise just how isolated deaf and visually impaired people are.”

Last year, to help raise awareness of the issues faced by deaf and
partially sighted people, Charlene teamed up with 30 colleagues at
Addenbrooke’s to record a signed version of
Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, which was posted on social media.

She added: “It just went viral. It really took off and I have had so many people contact me from the deaf community to say thank you.”

This year, with so many more staff – and three pat dogs - keen to take part, the team opted for Merry Christmas Everyone with music and vocals recorded and sung by Luca Palmese, an anaesthetic nurse practitioner.

Charlene added: “I hope we can help raise awareness of the issues faced by people who have a hearing or a visual impairment, especially around Christmas time. We want to send out the message that, at Addenbrooke’s, we really are inclusive of everyone, and we are doing all we can to support that.”

You can watch the video here.