Bobby Izzard, who attended Havering Sixth Form College from 2007 to 2009, has just set up a social media project in an effort to teach more people sign language.
The former Albany (now Hornchurch High) School pupil launched Project BSLUK (British Sign Language UK) earlier this month on Facebook and Instagram. He now posts short daily videos to teach followers the basic hand gestures required to communicate with those people who have hearing problems.
Bobby, who studied Accounts, English Language and Law while at College, has worked in hospitality for several years. Last year he was working as the floor manager at the Shepherd and Dog Restaurant in Harold Wood when he was unable to properly communicate with a group of deaf people who were ordering a meal.
He told the Romford Recorder, who featured his project in their newspaper last week: “There was a group of deaf people who regularly came in and a few of us thought we’d start to make a bit of effort and learn how to say basic things like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘would you like any water?’ in sign language, and it just went from there.
“I realised how few people know British Sign Language and wanted to encourage more to learn.”
He added: “There is a whole deaf community that often goes unseen in mainstream life which has a lot to do with people not knowing how to do sign language. The importance of it is one thing, but how handy it is as well - excuse the pun - and how it can enrich your life and those around you are other great reasons to start learning. I’m really proud of how it has gone so far.”
Bobby already has more than 800 followers and is determined to try and make the skill accessible to everyone.
Visit Project BSLUK on Facebook or @projectblsuk on Instagram.