Board of Trustees

Jeff McWhinney

- Chair -
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Jeff is a visionary leader with a proven track record in the latest technologies. He was the first Deaf CEO of the BDA at the tender age of 34, then founded, grew and sold SignVideo, who pioneered video relay services by exploiting emerging video technologies empowering Deaf BSL signers.  A strategic thinker with a solid understanding of the Deaf community, Jeff is committed to using his skills and experience to ensure that BSL Zone consolidates its position as the leading provider of BSL-centred broadcasting.

A keen sports fan, Jeff has sailed in a small yacht across the Atlantic, taken lessons in flying a glider, plays golf occasionally, is a keen motorcyclist, and capped at international level for Ireland in Deaf soccer.  

At home, Jeff enjoys debating a range of issues with his Deaf children and grandchildren in BSL, covering Deaf and BSL issues, and BSL Zone programmes(!)

Chris Higgs

- Vice Chair -

Chris has many years’ experience in the media and broadcast service industry. Until 2016, he was Managing Director of Deluxe Media Europe, leading and consolidating 7 businesses into a single operating structure. Prior to that, he led ITFC, a major media service supplier, until its acquisition by Deluxe in 2010, and then oversaw the sale of ITFC from ITV in 2007 and again in 2010 to Deluxe. Chris has managed and negotiated contracts and relationships with major broadcasters, film studios and producers or media services. He oversaw the business transform from tape to digital supply as well as the launch of access services - subtitling, audio description and signing - to serve major global broadcasters.

Chris now provides consulting, advisory and non-executive services to the media industry and has launched a travel consultancy business.

Reg Cobb

- Trustee -
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Reg is CEO of deafPLUS, previously working as a senior manager for Gloucestershire Deaf Association.  Reg has a wide ranging background, managing disability support in FE and working as an architectural surveyor.  He has supported many charities, including the Deaf Broadcasting Council, fundraising and attending meetings.
Reg has taken part in many TV productions such as This Is Deaf: Deaf Clubs, Sign2Win, BBC See Hear, Channel 4’s Sign On and even a live streamed BSL Zone BBQ!  He is very passionate about promoting better wellbeing for deaf and hard of hearing people and sign language users, such as via a weekly video newsletter and On The Sofa With Yvonne & Reg during lockdown.
In his spare time, Reg enjoys being with his family and outdoor activities such as trail running, wild swimming, cycling, stand up paddling and dog walking.

Abigail Gorman

- Trustee -
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Abigail is a Policy and Public Affairs Manager, human rights trainer, and is studying to become a qualified BSL translator.  Passionate about raising awareness and promoting positive change in the areas of intersectionality, social inclusion, and accessibility for the deaf community, she also serves as Vice-Chair of the British Deaf Association. 

Abigail actively engages in advocacy efforts to ensure that the views of the deaf community are acknowledged and valued.  As a mixed-race lesbian, she is dedicated to increasing the visibility and participation of people with intersectional identities both on-screen and off-screen, and is looking forward to using her skills and knowledge to ensure equal representation in media.

In her spare time, you can find her either reading, walking her dog, volunteering, exploring new ways to promote equality and diversity, or travelling!

Moona Mohammed

- Trustee -
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Moona is a Black deaf woman with a passion for the deaf community, the arts and photography. She loves to travel and shares her body positive ethos everywhere.

Actively working in the third sector for over 15 years, she has worked with deaf people in a number of different areas including; housing, mental health, domestic abuse and now, campaigning.

As a Somali British woman who is also deaf, she has experienced many intersectional barriers that others don’t see. This has given her the spirit, purpose and drive to want to change the world for others.

Moona is a social butterfly and loves to connect with people from all walks of life. She has seen almost all of the recent deaf theatre productions and almost everything on BSL Zone!
Representation, diversity and inclusion are the pillars of Moona's beliefs, aligning with BSLBT's mission and values.

Greg Pierssene

- Trustee -
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Greg has over 20 years of experience of analysing wealth experience in banking, finance and retail as credit risk aspects at Shop Direct Group, Aldermore Bank and Sainsbury’s Bank.
He is also chairperson at the successful and blooming Warrington Deaf Hub and a trustee and treasurer of Warrington and District Society for Deaf People.
From 2012 to 2017, he was involved as a participant and an eventual team leader in fundraising tens of thousands of pounds which enabled a group to visit and volunteer to help deprived Nepalese schools for Deaf children, providing new buildings and equipment.
Greg is keen to support BSLBT's Vision to ensure as many programmes as possible are accessible to the Deaf community, and to think outside of the box through a technology and growth mindset.

Briony Robinson

- Trustee -

Briony is Policy and Public Affairs Manager in the Corporate Affairs team at Channel 4. She has a particular focus on improving diversity and inclusion at the Channel and in the wider broadcasting sector, both on and off screen.

Before joining Channel 4, Briony spent over 5 years working in the UK Parliament, covering a range of policy areas including health, justice, employment and pensions and also spent time working for the Labour Party during the EU referendum campaign. 

Prior to working in Parliament, Briony worked in campaigns and communications at the charity Grandparents Plus.

Elizabeth Rowlands

- Trustee -
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With over 25 years’ experience in broadcast and programme-making regulation, Elizabeth is the Director of Content Compliance and Policy at Sky. Having worked in multi-channel television for most of her career - including UKTV, Flextech and ITV - Elizabeth’s current role ensures that Sky’s editorial and commercial content complies with regulatory requirements across a range of programming, including Comedy, Documentary, Sports and Drama.

Inspired by BSLBT’s vision of reaching every BSL user with BSL-made programming that they will love to watch, Elizabeth is looking forward to applying her broadcast industry experience to realising this vision.

Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, Elizabeth is (predictably) a passionate Welsh rugby fan and a patron of London Welsh RFC.

Jaine Sykes

- Trustee -
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Jaine Sykes is Senior Director of Media Strategy and Campaigning at Edelman. She oversees the company’s media advisors to deliver channel-agnostic campaigns for clients, ensuring that the right storytelling reaches the right audience in the right place at the right time.

Prior to Edelman, she was the Head of Digital Content, Strategy & Viewer Engagement at ITV, defining the strategy and content to drive innovation and audiences for the broadcaster. She oversaw social media, short form video, CRM, podcasts and apps across ITV's biggest programmes and brands including Love Island, I’m A Celebrity, This Morning and major sporting tournaments.

She’s championed improving accessibility of digital content and communications, and is hugely passionate about it as she has sight loss herself.

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