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Dr Paul Whittaker OBE

Dr Paul Whittaker OBE
Paul was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, in 1964 with a hearing loss and has been profoundly deaf since the age of 8. He is an organist and pianist, having gained his ARCO and ALCM diplomas whilst still at school. In 1983 Paul was accepted at Wadham College, Oxford, to read for a music degree, followed by a post-graduate performance course at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, in 1986.

In 1988 Paul founded the charity, Music and the Deaf, to help deaf people access music and performing arts. Covering resources, talks and lectures, training events, workshops, signed concerts, dance and theatre performances, this work takes Paul all over the UK. 

Since 2007, Music and the Deaf has run the Deaf Youth Orchestra of West Yorkshire, and there are now similar groups in the North West, Peterborough and London, with more planned. The charity is also developing more singed song resources and a training programme so that more people have the confidence, skills and resources to make music with deaf people.

More information on Music and the Deaf can be found on

In 1992 Paul was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to research music among deaf communities in the USA. The same year he began giving signed theatre performances in London and across the UK.

In 2010 he provided the first ever signed Prom, "Sondheim at 80", which was also broadcast on BBC2, and followed that with a performance of "Porgy and Bess" with Opera Lyon at the Edinburgh International Festival. He has also signed for Rambert Dance Company and with "The Sixteen" choir.

Current projects involve the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and in 2013 "Music and the Deaf" celebrates its 25th anniversary.   

In 2005 Paul was invited by Her Majesty The Queen to attend a reception to celebrate British Music at Buckingham Palace, and the same year received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Huddersfield, in recognition of his music education work with deaf people.

Paul was awarded an OBE for services to Music in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2007.