CHIIC’s Sweet Smell of Success at Signature Annual Awards

6a01156fa075f4970c0133f2c64b00970bAs I explained last week, I have just completed an intensive Level 1 sign language course with CHIIC, a Welsh based business offering training and consultancy services on D/deaf and Disability issues throughout Wales and the rest of the UK. As a result of their fabulous tuition I am proud to have been able to interview founders and tutors Charles and Gaye Hampton, completely by signing alone.

I start by asking if they enjoy gardening.  Charles signs, “I don’t like gardening but I love gardens because I link them with lovely memories of my mother.   I was born in Los Angeles in the USA and we had a nice garden there.  My Mother grew beautiful roses. They smelt really nice.  They were all different colours, pink, white, red and even blue.  I didn’t do any digging, I just cut the grass.  I kept it nice and short.”

Gaye adds, “Now we live in a small village near Blaenavon.  The garden is very steep and has lots of steps so it is not easy to keep; but the view is good,” she laughs.  “We have been working on the house for a few years so not had much time for the garden.  We have a patio on the lower level where we sit, then steps and another level with pebbles and a washing line and then more steps to level three where there are two sheds.  The garden at the top is very wild and the fence is broken,” she grimaces.  “A wildlife garden?” I sign.  “No, just wilderness!”  she replies with a wry smile.

Charles continues, “I love eating salad leaves and rocket but we can’t grow our own as the ground is too hard.”

When I suggest he could grow salad leaves in pots, Gaye signs to Charles indignantly, “I told you that already”.

Shrugging good-humouredly, Charles continues, “The weather last winter was awful.  The snow flattened our lavender, (‘that was in a pot,’ he reminds Gaye) and it died.  I was disappointed.  In Los Angeles it was hot and the flowers were lovely.  Here the rain spoils the flowers, they all go brown.”

Gaye signs, “We both enjoy visiting Garden Centres, especially the Cafes,” she laughs “but we find it difficult when the staff try to give us too much information.  ‘Sun or shade’, will do.  And we can never remember names of plants but Charles has had a clever idea.”

“When we watch gardening on TV if we see a plant we like, we watch it again on i-player and we pause at the plant we like and take a photo of it.”  Charles nods smugly, giving me the thumbs up and a big wink!

Having recently won Signature’s Annual Awards, ‘Welsh Regional Teacher of the Year’, Charles is now shortlisted for the National Awards in November.  “We started our Training and Consultancy business in 2004 and it has been very successful ,” he signs proudly;  “better than our gardening, ” he adds with a big laugh.

For more about Charles and Gaye and courses they run, pop into

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