Over three decades supporting deaf children and their families
The Elizabeth Foundation was set up in 1981 by Shirley and David Metherell, whose daughter, Elizabeth, was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when she was 22 months old.
In response to a lack of local support for Elizabeth, and inspired by the John Tracey Clinic in Los Angeles, Shirley and David established and developed The Elizabeth Foundation to support other parents of newly diagnosed children with hearing loss.
The Elizabeth Foundation quickly grew and developed a unique working partnership with the Audiology Team of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.
Today we remain the UK’s single largest provider of early intervention, educational and support services for preschool children and babies with varying degrees of hearing loss.
Key moments in our history
Inspired by The John Tracy Clinic's remarkable services and driven by the need to help other parents of newly diagnosed deaf children, on their return Shirley and David set up a support group to provide early intervention services.
Four other deaf babies and their parents begin to meet regularly in the Metherell's home, helped by a local volunteer Teacher of the Deaf. Within just seven months, the new organisation - named The Elizabeth Foundation after their daughter - gains full charitable status.
The following year we are joined by a specialist Teacher of the Deaf from The John Tracy Clinic, with classes now held in temporary accommodation (nicknamed 'The Hut') in the grounds of Shirley's local primary school.
Shirley and David Metherell start a major fundraising and public relations drive, and together with a group of parent volunteers start building with the first major grant from The Tudor Trust.
This printed course has formed the basis for our new online Let's Listen and Talk programme for parents.
This new building was self-built by the five fathers of the original Elizabeth Foundation children, with finances raised from the local community and grantmaking trusts.
In the same year, The University of Portsmouth recognises Shirley Metherell's work with deaf children and their parents by awarding her an honorary Master of Education degree.
By this time, The Elizabeth Foundation has gained national recognition for its innovative work across the UK.
With 70 children attending weekly, The Elizabeth Foundation becomes the largest single provider of education services for preschool deaf children in the UK.
The expanded facilities at our Family Centre in Hampshire include a new baby and toddler classroom and additional office space for teaching and support staff.
The following year (2014), Shirley and David Metherell are both made Members of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to children with hearing loss and their families.
Using our experience of delivering the successful Home Learning Programme, this website provides a comprehensive package of information, videos and tailored advice to support parents in helping their deaf children learn to listen and talk.