Kirkcudbright councillor has made UK history

A Kirkcudbright man has made history by becoming the first ever deaf Conservative party member elected in the UK and using British Sign Language (BSL) in politics.

By Marc McLean - Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 4:34 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 5:50 pm
John Denerley was one of three councillors elected to serve the Dee and Glenkens ward
John Denerley was one of three councillors elected to serve the Dee and Glenkens ward

John Denerley, who has run the wildlife centre in Kirkcudbright for the past 19 years, has been profoundly deaf since his birth, with British Sign Language becoming his native language.

Representing the deaf community at a local and national level, he has been an advocacy campaigner and a lifelong member of the British Deaf Association.

After moving to Scotland from his native Chesire, Councillor Denerley became a convener on the Scottish Council on Deafness, chairman of the Dumfries and Galloway Society for the Deaf, and regularly attends the cross-party group on deafness at the Scottish Parliament.

Having been a member of the Conservative party for 25 years, the 54-year-old was one of 16 Tories who gained a seat on Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Councillor Denerley, was one of three councillors elected to serve the Dee and Glenkens ward.

He has a personal assistant who was with him at the election count on May 5 and will be supporting him in his council duties.

Councillor Denerley said: “I am a conservationist, focussing on native fauna and flora in Dumfries and Galloway.

“All my life I have been interested in politics. I believe I have the skills and experiences from my time here and will work with and service the people of Dee and Glenkens to the best of my ability for the next five years.

“It is of great privilege to be the first-ever deaf Conservative party member elected in the UK using BSL in politics.

“I feel honoured and hope I can be a positive role model for other deaf people, whether it be in politics or any dream they may have.”

Councillor Denerley outlined his priorities.

He said: “Keeping public services within the hands of the community, improving vital broadband and mobile coverage, as well as upgrading the A75, helping local farming, agricultural and tourism industries get the support they deserve.

“After the damaging effects of Covid-19 on communities and public services, I want to help get Dee and Glenkens back on track and will work hard for residents.”