One Year On – Something Inside So Strong.

Upon reflection on how The Tree House has been nurtured since the seed of reality was first planted one year ago, how it has grown into a strong foundation and radiates with the warmth of the light from within. It is those who are able to welcome, include and consider diversity – all the various communication needs or abilities regardless, who exhibit a true strength of character.

Combine that strength with a sense of mutual respect for all and genuine intent to effect change for the better. Barriers are slowly but surely being broken down as the way forwards is being paved by those unsung, for simply being true to themselves and others in standing tall with courage.

With each and every one of you, wherever you may be – over the past year, there has been something inside growing ever so strong. Moreover, because of you wanting to be accepted for whom you may be and to have your voice – you are why we continue so. Onwards and upwards – wherever it may take us.

We are truly honoured to have been graced with the pleasure of your company.

Here we humbly share with you our very first anniversary tribute.

Thank YOU!

Can you tell who is hearing, hard of hearing, deaf or deafened in this video? Can you tell who relies solely on sign language to get by? Can you tell who is a CODA? Can you tell who is a lip-reader? Can you tell who tries their best to adapt to present company? No because that is the beauty of being so diverse and inclusive of all. All of which is not obvious in making this video and soundtrack possible.

Unfortunately we could not include all the clips and photos we were provided for this compilation as we sadly could not fit it all in order to show the full extent of the diversity. Thanks ever so, to all of you who contributed and supported us in the making of this video. It is very much appreciated – more than you realise. Please take your hats off to Paul for his time and patience in editing and compiling the videos together which produced the awesome final cut.  

The full lyrics to the sound track on our video can be found by clicking on this link: (Something Inside) So Strong by Labi Siffre.

To view Sambuca’s or Danielle William’s (full length) signed song to the soundtrack “Something inside so strong” please click on these links: Sambuca’s signed song or Danielle William’s signed song.

Please feel free to join our rather diverse Facebook discussion group.

To be notified instantly of any new articles by The Tree House, please feel free to follow us on Twitter @treehouseviews, subscribe to our Facebook page and/or add us to your circle on Google + .

 Positivity rules! 

~ SJ (Sara Jae)


The Day The Door Handle Met My Hand.

What seems to be quite a famous incident that is still talked about also left such a vivid and shared memory by all those who were present on a particular fateful day in 1990, at a particular boarding school for the deaf. On this day, which seemed to start out like any other school day, we went about our usual routines unaware of what would happen next.

Having just attended assembly, we all started to make our way back to our designated form rooms. My form room happened to be the one beside the Home Economics room, which was directly across from the assembly hall so there was no urgency or hike back to gather our books for that morning’s timetable. Momentarily, a couple of us paused in the communal area outside the assembly room for a quick “Hello”.

A classmate of mine had said something to me there and then and in annoyance I ran after him. He proceeded into our form room intending to close the door behind him but as I ran after him, I stopped the door from being closed onto me and tried to continue running after him. However, I could not, and I was being held back. I did not sense anyone holding me back so I could not understand what or who was holding me back. My arm seemed to be held into place – glancing down at my arm and then my hand. It immediately made sense – I could see the door handle protruding from inside my hand. “So this is what was stopping me!” I thought…. I could not contain my anger so screamed, shouted and kicked at the blooming door – for hurting me like that. Mind you, I was only thirteen years old at the time.

A couple of sixth formers came to my rescue, shielding me, controlling and deflecting the building crowd of onlookers who were startled by my screams. The headmaster, Dr Tucker suddenly appeared alongside the school nurse and Mrs Fenney, the cookery teacher. There was this brick of a mobile phone too. I do not think I had ever seen one before then except in the films – Dr Tucker was calling the emergency services who very quickly appeared on scene.

A mask was offered to me, “Breathe hard until it clicks” I had no idea what I was going to breathe in or what I would experience! There was a click and I soon drifted off to “sleep”.

As I was being sat down by supporting hands, the groovy effects from the gas and air wearing off – I was “waking up” again, looking around me to pinpoint where I was. I was somewhat disappointed to find I was still in the very same spot and turned towards the school nurse saying, “I thought it was all a bad dream”. She responded albeit with tears in her eyes “So did I”. Dr Tucker started to look overcome with relief.

I then found my right hand resting on a pillow, which had been placed on my lap – the door handle had been unscrewed away from the door. It was decided that the handle should be left inside my hand in case of any serious blood loss or nerve damage. The door handle had gone through my skin between the middle and ring finger and still protruded outwards, where the handle bends. It felt quite uncomfortable but not painful, at all.

Being wheeled outside of the school, I spotted an ambulance – I had never been inside one so I anticipated a great ride! So I thought. It inched ever so slowly down the country lane heading towards the motorway. Much to my dismay because ambulances to my knowledge were always whizzing around and here I was, having what felt like a race with a snail. It had to be so. Because the aforementioned door handle impaled my hand and they did not want any further damage to be inflicted. Bless them.

I learned afterwards, that my classmates were watching the ambulance carting me away, from their Physics lesson in the science block, in what one described as a “rather sombre mood” – I had got out of doing physics – go me! In all seriousness, one person was feeling extremely upset and overcome with guilt.

Two hospitals later (because the first was only very small with no hand specialist), armed with my x-rays, it was finally deemed safe to remove the door handle, from my hand. I watched as a nurse treated my hand like a pincushion turning the area numb and ready to be handled (pardon the pun!) – holding my hand upright, the handle was slowly being edged out. It came out cleanly with such care and ease. Was blood going to spurt out? Was it going to be like in the films? Blood spurting everywhere… Alas no, except a cavity was left behind, tissue had been pushed down upon meeting the handle. A huge syringe filled with sterile water washed out the cavity, of which was kept above my line of view so I could not peer inside. This massive curved needle suddenly made an appearance and was guided through each edge of the open wound, gradually closing it together. I had a new addition to my collection of scars – sporting six stiches!

As my hand was being bandaged up and arm then put into a sling – there was a message for me.

“In future, never run after the boys – let them run after you!” said the ambulance staff that had looked after me earlier that day. This witty remark somehow made my day.

My writing hand thankfully, was not seriously damaged. With physio and time – it would heal. To this day, whenever it aches, this lets me know it is going to rain heavily within the next 24 hours. My very own barometer.

Mrs Fenney who had stayed with me throughout, I will never forget her for her kindness and patience. My mother joined us and we decided to buy a box of chocolates – not for us but for one particular person. Arriving back at school, everything became a haze. People wanted to know what happened, how I was…. Then much to my surprise, the person whom we had given the box of chocolates came to see me, they had saved the very last chocolate – just for me. He was being such a gentleman. I will always remember the apologetic look on his face yet he had nothing to be sorry for because it was purely an accident and besides, he got a box of chocolates whereas I got a door handle!

The one and only.

The one and only.

The door handle was presented to me, with masking tape on it indicating the depth of the meeting that took place. To this day, I still have it and I write this for posterity.

Now you will understand why, all the doors at the Mary Hare School were replaced into much safer (push open) ones that especially had no door handles!

A heartfelt “Thank you” to all those of you who supported me on that very day x

~ SJ (Sara Jae)




Following on from last year’s extremely successful festival, Incloodu (pronounced/signed as include you) returns with an even higher quality event with a theme of ‘Working together’.

This year Incloodu will illustrate examples of Deaf, HoH and hearing collaborating to create a unique window on what can be achieved through collaboration, alongside of work produced/performed solely by Deaf artists.

We are sure that both evening and daytime events will be a memorable occasion for everyone involved. This really is a ‘not to be missed’ event for anyone interested in visual or performing arts.

We are very excited about the debut showcase The Vibrating Chairs; there will be five of them. A working diagram. is on our FB page. Designed by Robert Jack, a PhD student in sound engineering at Queen Mary College specialising in, making music accessible without sound, has designed a chair that enables you to experience vibrations across a wide range of frequencies.

In the past, we have seen vibrating dance floors and hand held vibrating units that only really work with effectively with ‘bass’ frequencies. These chairs which are ergonomically designed to enable you to experience the rhythm and vibration of music right across the frequency range through the use of strategically placed pads that correspond to the parts of your body that react to different pitches of sound i.e.; Bass is felt most in the abdomen whilst the higher frequency and mid-range sounds are best experienced at various positions on the spine.

We cannot wait to get feedback from your experience of this.

There are far too many acts and workshops to list here. However, please do feel free to have a look at the websites (below) of some of the people involved who are all committed to raising awareness of creative work arising from the broad-spectrum deaf community.

Hope to see you all there on the day!

Mark Bushell, Ruby Sehra, Amanda Jane Richards – Incloodu Directors


Mark Smith – Deaf Men Dancing.

DJ Chris Tofu

Nao Masuda – Music in motion.

Analema Group.

Let ’em Go by Paul Leonard

Whilst out and about enjoying the Christmas cheer, a friend came up with an idea and asked for my technical know how in making this possible. How could I possibly turn down the challenge?! So in true Tree House spirit, the day was well and truly seized albeit adding my own twist!

This video we hope will help to lift everyone’s spirits and make you smile for “a smile is free and does wonders” – to quote the founder, Sara.

On behalf of The Tree House, we would like to present our parody of “Let it go” from the film, Frozen; “Let ’em go”


Please help The Tree House to stamp out any form of online abuse by not condoning it in any sense. Many thanks.

“Let ’em go” because The Tree House is positively moving onwards and upwards.


In Dedication by Anon.

How many friends do you have?  I am not talking about Facebook “friends” now.  I am not talking about the people you kinda know, your acquaintances.  I am talking about actual friends.  If you were going through a difficult time, who could you turn to?  Who could you tell your story to without fear of being judged?  Who would let you cry on their shoulder?  Who could you text or call at say 3am and have a listening ear?  That is just the very question I asked myself at work the other day – and the answer for me personally, the very high figure of four!


Four people in my life that I could consider a friend.  One of my friends goes back nearly 20 years.  20 years!  I sound old.  (Perhaps I am?)  Two of my other friends go back around 18 years.  We used to work together.  Of one of these friends, my spouse thinks we have an “odd” relationship, and yet we have been there for each other time and time again.  The other guy, we don’t see each other as much as we used to due to him moving out of town but when we see each other, it’s like we haven’t been apart.  It’s is never long before him and me are putting the world to right about various issues!  And my other and last friend, a very odd one this, this person I met by “accident” and not all that long ago.  I wasn’t looking for a friend.  It just … happened.  Organically you might say.  It is odd though because this person knows so much about me in such a short space of time.  We instantly “clicked”.  (Well, from my point of view we did!)   A person although I have known a very short space of time, compared to the others, has always been there for me, time after time, through thick and thin, good times and bad.

This post is just to simply say, “Thank you”.  Thank you to the four.  Life sometimes has been hard, really hard.  In the last year or so, particularly hard and challenging.  There have been times where the brown stuff has one and truly hit the fan, yet these four, at different times, have been alongside me to help me through it.  Times when I really didn’t know what to do or say.  When I didn’t know which way to turn, these guys have been there for me.   Thank you, thank you!  Although I have told my friends this face to face, I want to say it again, publically for all to see, “Thank you”.

I would urge you, if you don’t have someone you can call a friend, find one.  It’s an old saying that gets said time and time again, “A problem shared is a problem halved”, but it is oh so true.  These guys have been there for me, through thick and thin and if I can be of the same nature to any of the people who would consider me a friend, it would be my pleasure!


Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true you’re a pal and a confidant. 

(Lyrics to the “Golden Girls” theme TV show)

A Show of Gratitude.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt.


On this exceptionally memorable date, I would like to extend my annual show of gratitude to the doctors and nurses of Charing Cross Hospital who several years ago gave me the best birthday present one could ever ask for. 

A second chance to cherish life and being able to watch my beautiful children grow up of which I intend to make the most of.

I never ask for much but I would very much appreciate it if you too could show your gratitude to our NHS services, especially the Doctors and Nurses who devote and dedicate so much of their time and passion to ensure we get the best care around the clock – please could you join forces against any NHS closures and get involved?

For if Charing Cross Hospital had closed down then, I would not be around today.

And last but not least, to our beloved Tree House and its dwellers for creating such a unique place without any barriers.

It is what we all make it.

Please accept this dedicated post as a token of my gratitude for being true to yourselves.

Thank YOU, to each and every single one of you, my family and my friends – for putting up with me 😉

Carpe Diem – Everyday x

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Pierce Starre: Breaking free: Part 2

An inspirational Pierce Starre travelled for several long weeks on foot, he chose to embark on an unplanned and organic journey that would see him breaking free from the daily rituals and triviality of our modernised lives. Along the way he continued to meet more people, many of whom shared a mutual view how one should be making the most of Mother Nature’s natural treasures that our country provides. Early morning sunrises breaking through heavy mist, the glorious beauty of rolling moors, refreshing swims in clear rivers and musical sounds of rushing waterfalls – all of these delights are described in Pierce’s blog: Born To Birth.

Photo by Pierce Starre

Photo by Pierce Starre

For us to comprehend the experiences Peirce was going through, he kindly agreed to share them with us alongside his journey, one that took him out of society and was an experience for him on all levels.

Hereby the concluding article;

1. As with last time I’ll start with how are you?

I am doing well and am feeling optimistic and positive despite missing my family and my ongoing hayfever and ankle difficulties.

2. Since you started have you encountered mainstream society, if so how was it?

There have been occasional reconnections with society. I took a trip into a supermarket to pick up rations for my journey and the noise was audibly and visually disorientating. It hit me like a brick. I hadn’t experienced that amount of noise for a while. It struck me how systematic everything appeared. The way people walked up and down the aisles in the same direction. The way people queued up to pay for their items, everything seemed really structured. Living life out doors is much more free, you move in the direction you wish to. Conventional life in general is very organised and mundane I think I might find it difficult going back to my systematic life. How I will deal with this remains to be seen.

3. Here is a toughie… You miss your family so much, how have you been coping?

On a trip like this where there are many days of being completely isolated, I tend to think of my family a lot. It is very difficult being away. It definitely brings a different level of appreciation. It’s easy to become complacent when you have your family around you every day but when you are alone and completely detached from them you realise how precious they are and how much more you can do to enjoy the time you have with them when you are around them.

4. You’re now fund raising for CIC, how did that come about?

As a young boy I had enjoyed playing outdoors, it shaped me as an individual. I have many happy memories of being outdoors, climbing trees, building dens, playing with other children and being part of a young community.

During the last couple of weeks on this journey, I have only seen two children playing outdoors. The weather has been glorious in England. It sad to see that children are not out enjoying everything the land/nature has to offer anymore. More and more children are indoors and consumed by the wide range of gadgets they have at a whim.

CIC’s such as Playing Out have useful resources to inspire parents to find ways encourage their children be outdoors and enjoying the spaces around them.

Playing outdoors develops children’s confidence, creativity, trust and social skills; all of which will go onto benefit their adult life. Playing Out also gives children those all important memories of their childhood.

5. You seem to have adjusted well to living simply, opening yourself completely to the raw land and the people in it…. but how have you adjusted coming back into mainstream civilisation?

What I have come to realise is the things that became unimportant to me on my trip are of upmost importance to me now, these are the things that have made me realise how trivial we behave in our systematic existence. The conventional life is confined and clinical. It has very little time for reflection.

Selfie by Pierce Starre

Selfie by Pierce Starre

During my journey I carried an iPhone which I used to update my blog, I initially planned to write in a journal and be completely disconnected from my conventional life but after much consideration I decided to create a blog. The reason I decided on the blog was because I am a father. It was the first time I had spent such a long time away from my family home and I didn’t know how my absence would affect my son, The blog enabled him to see me.  Apart from my iPhone I was disconnected, when I say disconnected, I mean from my conventional existence.

My home is a static shell, I know it so well, it’s familiar. I learn very little when I meet the confinement of my walls and materials. When at home I look for means to occupy myself; to engage as I think a lot of us do. More and more of us spend less time outdoors so how do we escape and connect with what’s outside our walls? “The conventional escape” seems to be achieved through media, the things we read or watch but are we actually escaping? Media, whether it be news or social networking has the power to influence the way we see our world but a lot of what we see is what the contributor wants us to see.

When on my journey my abode was the space and the people that existed within it at that given time. The place I rested constantly changed and because of this it meant that I was continuously exploring and absorbing a vast amount of information. I didn’t need technology, I was connected with what I seeing. I felt like what I saw was my power supply, I was alive. I was receiving substance and I found myself reflecting more than ever before and now I am back in a dwelling that is permanent, static and confined by bricks mortar. I feel like my power supply has been removed.

I was unable to wash frequently, my level of cleanliness wasn’t the best. I was eating food with grubby hands, wearing clothes that I had worn for 4 or 5 days on the trot. These things didn’t matter to me, in fact I forgot about them, they became unimportant. I appreciated that I had air in my lungs, I had life and what I was experiencing made me feel complete.

6. Do you think you would turn your journey into a small book?

I realised how reflecting in my Borntobirth became paramount. I aim to use my blog as a pilot/blueprint for ideas I have for future projects I want to develop.

7. Do you think families have too many gadgets? Do we really need a constant stream of technology? Wouldn’t just one in the home suffice?

In truth I think media is disconnecting us from everything that is around us, including our nearest and dearest. It only becomes apparent when you disconnect from media and reconnect with the simple pleasures of life.

Kirsty – You’re quite right there. The evening usually sees Martyn on his smart phone and me in another room on the computer. Or if we’re watching telly, he is on his smart phone… At dinner time he is on his smart phone and the kids are watching the telly. I’ve coax, bribed and threatened my family to try and get dinner times to be just about enjoying our food and catching up with everyone’s day. It is hard for people to give up technology – additive and probably more so than cigarettes!

Pierce – This is the same in our household and probably most households in the UK.

8. Has your trip inspired you to change your household a little?

Definitely, I think my trip enabled me to see how amazing it was to just connect and learn from another human and not a screen.

Thank you for your continued support and shows of kindness which are very much appreciated.

Mr Starre is now progressing back into civilisation, recharging his batteries and recovering from his ailments albeit in very high spirits having completed his journey. He still feels rather overwhelmed with the amount of beauty he experienced and the kindness from people he met along the way.

Sara is now even more determined to turn a dream of hers into a reality due to being inspired by Pierce, to trek across Morocco with her kids in tow whereas Kirsty has arrived at the conclusion that perhaps it is not about being trapped by the routines of life but by our perceptions…. We work overly hard to bring our children gadgetry, and plastic toys when all we want is for them to be happy yet at the same time we are working ourselves far too hard. When perhaps all we need to do is take a trip to the countryside, swim in a river, eat berries straight from the bushes and leave our mobiles and watches at home.

Photo by Pierce Starre.

Photo by Pierce Starre.

“He is richest when he is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” – Socrates.

~ SJ (Sara Jae) & Kirsty

(For part 1, click here to read)