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Telegraph columnist who flew the flag for our deaf community


By Alf McCreary

Published 03/06/2016

Belfast Telegraph journalist Bob McCullough
Belfast Telegraph journalist Bob McCullough
With wife Evelyn

The death has taken place of Bob McCullough, who for many years wrote the widely read Deaf Talkabout column for the Belfast Telegraph.

Bob, who was brought up on the Shankill Road in Belfast, once remarked that there was a great togetherness among deaf people from Northern Ireland's two main communities.

"We could not hear the bombs or the bullets or the political arguments," he said. "We never thought of ourselves as Protestants or Catholics, but as deaf people living in a hearing world."

At the age of 12 Bob's parents sent him to a private school, where he met another pupil called Evelyn who was nine.

In adult life they married, and were together for more than 50 years.

Evelyn was the first deaf teacher at Jordanstown Schools, but it was not until mid-life that Bob started out in journalism.

He was asked to teach deaf children at a small school, and later took O-levels and A-levels and obtained a BA in English from the Open University. The course took him six years.

While teaching at a college, he discovered the father of one of his pupils was a journalist at the Belfast Telegraph, and he asked if there was any chance of writing a column on living with deafness.

He was given a six-week trial, and the response from readers and public was so good that he continued the column for over 30 years.

"I knew that I had to have good English, but no one ever asked me to stop, so there must have been a high regard for what I wrote," he said.

As a Shankill Road boy, Bob was always wary of crossing to the Falls.But he recalled a visit to his grandmother on the Shankill, saying: "Some of my deaf friends from the Falls came over to greet me, and I appreciated that very much."

In his weekly column, Bob covered many topics, including education for the deaf and other subjects, and was widely read by deaf and hearing people, as well as within Deaf Services.

He was awarded honours for his contribution to the work of the British Deaf Association, and by UTV for his weekly column.

Bob was highly regarded inside and outside the deaf community. He was heavily involved in establishing the Ulster Deaf Sports Council and the Northern Ireland Workshop with the Deaf.

He will be remembered as the man who organised the first essay competition for deaf children, sponsored by the Telegraph, and there is a Bob McCullough Cup which is awarded annually by the National Deaf Children's Society.

He is survived by his wife Evelyn and the family circle.

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