Meet the Staff

UK Deaf Sport has a growing team of staffs focused on developing greater opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people to reach their full potential in sport and develop a world leading system for deaf sport in the UK to grow.

Valerie Copenhagen

Executive Director
I have been at UK Deaf Sport since November 2016 in a number of different roles. My current role is Executive Director which means I am responsible for leading the organisation and supporting the team in delivering UKDS’s strategy towards achieving ‘Every Deaf Person Active and Inspired by Sport and Physical Activity’. This is a really exciting time to be part of UK Deaf Sport as we expand our team, increase participation and support our partners, deaf sports and Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in sport and physical activity. My background is mainly in programme management and working with partners and organisations. I am Deaf and wear hearing aids. In my spare time, I am completing a part time Executive MBA, train and compete as part of GB Deaf Tennis team and lead my local Brownies and Guide group. I am also a Director on the boards of UK Council on Deafness, Youth Sports Trust and Bath University Student Union.

Beate Grinspone

Diversity Officer
My name is Beate, I am profoundly Deaf and am from Latvia. I am a very independent and motivated person. My role as the Diversity Officer at UK Deaf sports is to focus on ways to remove barriers that stand in the way of people accessing community activities and events. My passion is to encourage people to be confident and independent individuals, who are given the support they need in order to succeed.  Currently I am running a project at UK Deaf sports that aims to give Deaf women and Deaf girls, an opportunity to succeed in the sports arena so that they can reach their full potential, without being held back by barriers or stigma. This will involve workshop sessions that will help promote confidence building, as well as develop their skills and knowledge base in the area of leadership to enable them to lead their own teams in their own sports or in their local areas. We will also offer training courses to become professional and qualified coaches, and certificates of attendance for the other workshops. All of which are being funded bu Sports England to get more Deaf sportswomen in the sporting arena as their counterparts. We are dedicated to assisting Deaf women and girls to strive for higher achievement without begin held back due to their disability, background or ethnicity and hope to encourage many Deaf girls and women to join us to take advantage of this opportunity. Myself I love sports, and have done all my life, as I am a very active person in the sports world. I am also very competitive and really don’t like to lose if I’m honest so look out! I am currently on a university course studying psychology and counselling as I am very interested in how the mental health of a person can very much link into their physical health and how a good healthy balance in both can be achieved. I very much encourage people to come together and be one, as the happiness and joy one  can be infectious to those around them, which is good for everybody. 

Thomas Irish

Project coordinator
 Project Officer for UKDS. My role is to plan and coordinate project activities, including scheduling, reporting and document control.  I am passionate about tackling inequality, inclusiveness and excited to show the diversity within the Deaf community. We should also recognise the beauty of who we are as a human being. Not only do I address the inequality of race in the Deaf community. I also want to help the improve and provide positive mental health and well-being of the Deaf and the hard-of-hearing people.  The current projects I’m involved in is to look at the experiences of at Black Deaf People and the Deaf Community in London. The aim of this project is to find out what are the common areas in regards to Black Deaf people wants, needs and their experiences in sport. With this we hope it’ll help us at UKDS and myself identify issues to help us tackle and improve the life of Black Deaf People.   I also manage and promote the #DeafActiveOnline for trainers that support and actively train Deaf people around the UK online. My colleague Hannah (Engagement Officer) and I are working together to assist #DeafActiveOnline people on the online platform so that we all can help every deaf person be physically active in their mental health and well-being. With thanks to Comic Relief we have an exciting opportunity at UK Deaf Sport by working in partnership with Access Sport to provide sports activity pack (sports equipment and activity book) to Deaf children at both Primary and Secondary schools based in London.

Sadie Lawson

National Partnership Advisor
I am Sadie and I have recently joined UK Deaf Sport as the National Partnership Advisor.  I am passionate about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion having worked in disability sport for the last 8 years. My background is within Education, Project Management and Sports Development with my biggest achievements including winning Silver for Sport England’s National Sportivate Project and being part of managing the largest disability sports programme in the UK.  My role as the National Partnership Advisor is to create and manage relationships with National Governing Bodies and external third sector organisations, to support and improve opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. I will be managing the Sport England funded work on several different projects outlining and implementing activities needed to support UKDS’s strategy towards achieving ‘Every Deaf Person Active and Inspired by Sport and Physical Activity’ In my spare time you will find me playing Regional Netball, hiking around Devon with my dog Nahla or watching true crime documentaries. My one true love though is travelling the world, I like to regularly jump on a plane and explore new countries and cultures.

Hannah Evans

Engagement Officer
Having recently joined the team, I’m very excited for my role as the Engagement Officer at UKDS. This means I am responsible for overseeing and fulfilling functions around communications and marketing at UKDS. I will also be working directly with the individual sports to support their communications and working with athletes to elevate their profiles. All of this involves finding new ways to bring attention to all the great things that is done in Deaf Sport. About myself, I am Welsh, my first language is Welsh too. Currently living in London away from the homeland. I’m also Deaf and volunteer my time to other deaf causes online with a focus on deafness and intersectionality.

Lydia Ingman

I’m Lydia Ingman from Chesterfield! I’m an intern at UK Deaf Sport and I also take lead in the Athlete Leadership group. I am really excited to be working in an area that I feel so passionately about! My role will be diverse across different areas, helping me to understand the behind the scenes of the organisation. The role will also support my studies of Sport and Exercise Science at Manchester Metropolitan University. A little about me: I was born deaf to a hearing family. From a young age, I learnt to sign and lip read which became my main form of communication until having a cochlear implant at aged 3. My main sport is Golf and is a big part of my life. My greatest achievement is winning the World Deaf Golf Championships 2016 in Copenhagen and winning European Deaf Golf Championships 2017 in England.

Kathryn Halsey

My name is Kathryn Halsey and I provide admin support to our team here at UK Deaf Sport. I am hearing and I have worked within the Deaf sector for over 10 years; firstly, at RNID and later at NDCS. I have worked in lots of different areas and have a strong background in events and administration. I have also studied BSL and gained my Level 6 NVQ in BSL in 2010. When I am not at work, I am busy chasing after my two young children and have recently started running.

Oliver Pritchard

My name is Oliver Pritchard (Volunteer), I’m profoundly deaf and I’m a triathlete. Trying to become professional athlete in the ‘all body’ level to prove that deafness isn’t a barrier and to be the best I can be. I’ve been working with UKDS for a while under the Athlete Leadership Group which Lydia organises. Wanted to branch out my volunteering in the Leadership Group and support other colleagues whether it’s media promotion, research, connection, recognition and etc. I have a serious passion on promoting deafness, sports and bringing recognition towards the UKDS and deafness. Always believed in the moto of “Its Abilities Not Disabilities”.