Classmates give sign of support for deaf boy at carol concert

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YOUNG Luke Champney was born profoundly deaf – but it certainly hasn't got in the way of enjoying Christmas carols this year.

Staff and pupils at Wimborne Juniors have gone the extra mile to set up a special 35-strong choir where youngsters sign along to recorded music.

And this year's unorthodox carol service for parents was such a hit, the school arranged a second performance for hundreds of pupils to enjoy and sign along to.

Carina Jacobs, headteacher at the Southsea school, said: 'The concert was amazing and it was great to see Luke smiling and enjoying himself.

'I realise it must have been quite hard for everyone as the music was quite fast, but they all did an incredible job.

'I'm so proud of our children and also the dedicated staff who have made this possible for Luke. There is a real willingness to communicate with Luke and to learn his language so he can be involved in every aspect of school life.'

Luke, a triplet, joined Wimborne Juniors this summer, and is supported by two communicators Gemma Cake and Kyla Richards.

He has been profoundly deaf since birth and wears a cochlear implant and radio aid in one ear, and a hearing aid in the other.

In September Mrs Cake decided to set up a signing club which meets twice a week to help Luke feel more included – and dozens of year three to year six pupils signed up.

Luke said: 'I like signing club and I like teaching my friends how to sign.

'It's good that lots of my friends are learning sign language – and I feel happy that I have made lots of new friends at Wimborne.

'My parents came to watch me in the Christmas Concert and I felt very proud because I love signing Christmas songs.'

Luke's peers admit they were nervous before the concert, but have had fun learning his language.

Harriet Brown, nine, said: 'Lots of my friends were in signing club and they said it was really good fun so I joined.

'It's tricky when you're learning all the new signs for a new song, but once you get the hang of it, it's much easier.'