Stage, Theatre & TV17th February 2014

Competing for the GB Sewing Bee Crown

Deaf, Lynda Lewis stars in BBC 2's Great British Sewing Bee that is first aired on 18th February 2014

by Sarah Lawrence

Episode 1 of the second series of The Great British Sewing Bee gets underway at 8pm on BBC 2 tonight. Hosted by Claudia Winkleman the programme sets amateur sewers challenges as they compete to be named Britain’s best home sewer.

The exciting news for this year, is that Lynda Lewis from West Sussex is taking part. Originally from Caerphilly in South Wales, Lynda has bi-lateral neural deafness (nerve deafness).

I asked Lynda why she entered the competition. “My oldest daughter challenged me to enter The Great British Sewing Bee” she explained. “She didn't think that I would rise to it specially when I couldn't open the email application. She told me recently that she was surprised that I did it!”

“I didn't expect to hear from them so was delighted to get on the programme. I have no idea how good I am at sewing and think there must be many people out there who have better sewing skills than me, who couldn't enter for whatever reason. My plan was to enjoy the experience and have fun!”

Lynda realised when she was about 11 that she couldn’t hear, but no-one believed her as her speech was so good. It was not until she was 23 that a hearing test revealed her deafness. Working with children since leaving school in 1972, Lynda qualified as a nursery nurse two years later.

Lynda has always enjoyed being a teaching assistant with children but when she was offered the opportunity to work with deaf children, instinctively she knew that would be perfect for her. "I totally empathise with them and have first hand experience of being deaf and living in a hearing world," she explained. Recognising the importance of communication, Lynda immediately started to learn British Sign Language and has worked with deaf children ever since, a job she enjoys greatly despite every day being different and throwing up new challenges. “At the present time I work in my local school and support a child who has Downs Syndrome and is deaf”, Lynda commented. 

For Lynda, day-to-day communication remains her greatest challenge, as she can’t follow conversations unless they are 1:1. Consequently, taking part in the GB Sewing Bee competition was a challenge, “I had a brilliant interpreter (Helen Hamston) and I honestly couldn't have managed without her. At first, I don't think the crew realised that I am profoundly deaf, a definite disadvantage of having good speech, but with Helen we overcame the problems. There are always communication problems for me!!”

Unable to say very much or give away any of the secrets from the programme, Lynda explained that one of her joys is meeting people with similar interests to her, so the whole GB Sewing Bee experience was great for her. Lynda had never previously been filmed, but she also delighted in meeting Claudia, and the judges May Martin and Patrick Grant.

A lovely, talented and caring person, Lynda tells me the nicest thing anyone has ever said to her is that she is an inspiration, I can understand why that comment was made. Lynda also had an inspirational and well known brother who sadly passed away in 1998. Royce was also deaf and he was one of the world’s best body builders, winning numerous national and international titles.

In reflecting on her life when she knew she could not hear but people around her did not believe her, Lynda gives this advice. “Tell people and don't feel it’s something you need to hide away, it’s ok to be deaf. Learn to sign, signing opened up a whole new world for me, I went back to college with the help of an interpreter, after learning to sign and wouldn’t have managed on GB Sewing Bee on my own. Finally, be kind to yourself, take the time to relax and have some time to yourself when you don't have to be under the strain of lip-reading/guessing what people are saying to you.”

Looking to the future, Lynda describes a dream she has with her oldest daughter to have a shop selling fabric/haberdashery/wool and to run workshops. They would have a café and it would be a friendly place for crafters to meet and share their skills. For now though, Lynda just wants to concentrate on her little boy in school and make sure she is doing all she can for him.

Without giving away a clue about her experience and progress on the Sewing Bee and firmly staying mum, we hope that Lynda does well and goes far in the competition, ladies like Lynda deserve their time in the limelight and at SLFirst we hope her time is a really successful one.

Episode 1 starts at 8pm on BBC 2 on the 18th February 2014

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Entertainment / Stage, Theatre & TV

17th February 2014