Makaton teacher from Blyth 'thrilled and over the moon' to be nominated for National Diversity Awards

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Northumberland woman Anna Melling has been nominated as a Positive Role Model for Disability at this year’s National Diversity Awards.

The 41-year-old from Blyth teaches Makaton, a language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people, especially people with learning difficulties that struggle with speech, to communicate.

Anna said: “It does not really matter to me if I win or not, it is just so nice that somebody has recognised the work that I am doing, because I do a lot of voluntary work as well.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“A lot of what I do is just because I want to spread the word and I want to make sure that those who need it can access it, which is why we offer a lot of free training.

Anna Melling teaching Makaton.Anna Melling teaching Makaton.
Anna Melling teaching Makaton.

“I was absolutely thrilled and over the moon.”

Over 100,000 people worldwide now use Makaton, which was popularised by Mr Tumble on Cbeebies programme Something Special.

Anna was likely nominated for the award by someone who attended one of her classes, many of which are free.

She said: “It is just fantastic because it basically gives people who could not communicate a voice. Otherwise they would not be able to communicate their needs, things that they want, and they would not have the same rights as other people.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
One of Anna's Makaton classes.One of Anna's Makaton classes.
One of Anna's Makaton classes.

“I think it should be part of the National Curriculum. I go into schools and I deliver it, but you need the schools to be willing and open to that. The ones that are, it is fantastic.

“They might only have a couple [of children] with learning difficulties but it is really helpful because then the entire school can communicate with those kids.

“The more people that have it makes the community a far more inclusive place for those who need supported communication.”

Anna says Makaton can help adults as well as children, and can also aid the language development of children without learning difficulties.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Anna Melling with Makaton-trained Loud Arts helpers Steph Allan, 16, and Bailey Dunn, 20.Anna Melling with Makaton-trained Loud Arts helpers Steph Allan, 16, and Bailey Dunn, 20.
Anna Melling with Makaton-trained Loud Arts helpers Steph Allan, 16, and Bailey Dunn, 20.

One attendee of Anna’s free workshops was a person who worked as a Santa, and could then better communicate with children while on the job.

Anna said: “It was just totally joyful because the families realised he could actually communicate with their child.

“It is just including people where previously they have not been able to be included in things.

“They have not been able to be valued members of society because nobody was able to communicate with them or talk to them.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Anna also runs Loud Arts, a community interest company helping people overcome barriers to accessing the arts, alongside her husband Gary. Makaton has become implemented in some Loud Arts sessions.

It is a cause the pair have a personal connection to. Anna said: “My husband and I have always run non-profit organisation based activities but we have a little boy who is nine.

“When he was about two or three we were struggling with his communication and we did not know how to support him.

“We were advised to maybe learn some Makaton and that would support him, and that is how I got into it and got involved.

“I just saw what a difference it makes to families.”

Members of the public can vote for Anna here and find out about learning Makaton by emailing [email protected].

Related topics: