A Fylde coast businesswoman and British Sign Language (BSL) teacher has been crowned the best in the country.
Janice Crossland-Jones, 48, was the winner of the North West Teacher of the Year award earlier this year for the second time, and now she has beaten tough competition from 11 other regional winners to claim the national accolade, at the 2014 Signature Annual Awards.
Janice, who was born deaf, has spent 18 years teaching British Sign Language (BSL) in schools and universities all over the country.
Janice, of Blackpool, set up the Fylde Coast British Sign Language Centre in Red Bank Road, Bispham – after fighting back to fitness following a motorbike accident in Greece, leaving her with multiple injuries, including a broken arm.
The signature awards honour individuals, organisations and community groups striving to break down the barriers of communication between deaf and hearing people.
Janice was presented with her award at a prestigious ceremony held at Durham Cathedral.
Among those Janice has taught over the years are fire-fighters, lawyers, police officers and NHS staff.
Her BSL Centre runs Level 3 to 6 courses in BSL at Calderdale College in Halifax and Carrs Church in Birmingham, plus interpreting courses at Huddersfield University.
In addition to her teaching role, Janice is an assessor, a member of the Institute of Learning and a previous committee member of Deaf Planet in Liverpool.
She has also established a charity, Signing in the Community, which aims to raise deaf awareness locally and organises social events and drop-in sessions for the deaf community.
Janice said: “It was an honour to receive the North West Teacher of the Year award, so I was absolutely thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen as the winner of the national award and to collect the accolade at the beautiful Durham Cathedral.
“My personal communication assistant, Michelle Lynn, and I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Signature, with whom we have worked for more than eight years. I would also like to give credit to the other teachers in my category – I was up against some really deserving nominees, who are all excellent at what they do.”
Jim Edwards, Signature chief executive, said: “Janice has won a regional Teacher of the Year award twice now, and we are thrilled to be acknowledging her achievements nationally.
“She is not only a fantastic BSL teacher and assessor, but is also dedicated to her charity and to making a difference in the deaf community.”