Board of Trustees

Chris Higgs

- Interim 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.

Jeff McWhinney

- Chair Designate -
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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(!)

Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq

- Trustee -

Rubbena is a renowned artist who paints and creates installations at her studio in West London She has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally.

Rubbena is a qualified and highly experienced Art Psychotherapist who works with children and adults who have experienced a wide range of mental, emotional and behavioural difficulties. As an expert in sexual and relationship education for Deaf people she provides consultancy and training to Deaf young people, and professionals in the field.

Active in the third sector for many years and a founder member and chairperson of the Deaf Ethnic Women’s Association (DEWA), Rubbena is an active, passionate campaigner for women’s rights, combatting the deeply entrenched inequalities experienced by minority ethnic Deaf women and deaf children in education.

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.

Sarah Dougherty

- Trustee -
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Sarah is the first Deaf female qualified chartered accountant in Ireland. She has over 15 years of financial experience in private, public and third sector, and currently works as an accountant at Queen’s University, Belfast. She also holds a PGCE in Sign Language from Ulster University. 

Being a Deaf professional as well as a mother of two Deaf children, Sarah has a passion for breaking down barriers that Deaf people face on a daily basis.

Sarah enjoys creating new initiatives and looking at innovative ways of providing services that will maximise opportunities for harder to reach beneficiaries. Her background helps her support BSLBT’s vision of reaching every BSL user with more BSL programmes that they love to watch.

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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