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  • Margaret Walker,
    founder of the Makaton Language Programme,
    has won the Pride of Britain,
    Special Recognition Award
    for her dedication to and creation of Makaton.

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Today our mentor and inspiration passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Twenty years or so ago Christine Koudstaal approached DEAFSA  on behalf of Makaton South Africa to ask for assistance in translating the core vocabulary of British sign language into South African signs.  John was recommended to us and immediately came and attended a Beginners workshop in Pretoria. I remember this rather handsome middle aged man sitting cross legged on the floor in front of me lip reading as we went. At the end he jumped up, hugged me and said ‘’Why don’t I know about this. There are also deaf kids with learning difficulties who need it”.

“I will help you!”


Over the years John worked voluntarily and tirelessly translating the Core vocabulary and assisting with the developing resource vocabularies. He was always available to give signing advice and encouragement.

In 2015 a UK benefactor, plus monies raised in S Africa , made it possible for two overseas Senior Tutors to travel to Johannesburg for a five day rigorous tutor training.

John worked alongside me and the tutors, delivering the signing sessions , and also introduced us to his daughter Jackie who is now our Sign Consultant.

It is rare in life to meet such an inspiring and generous teacher who was so modest about his amazing skills.

John’s warm and sunny nature and the generous and enthusiastic way he gave his time meant that all the Makaton tutors bonded with him and loved him.

Being a profoundly deaf person he had a unique insight into the situations of individuals who were without a communication system and was passionate about making Makaton available to as many children and adults as possible.

We are so grateful to John for enabling us to develop our skills to such a high quality and believing that we can make a difference to so many lives.

His memory will continue to inspire us!


Maggi Golding MBE: National Coordinator Makaton South Africa.