Ernest Leslie ‘Ernie’ Quinnell was born in Armidale NSW, in 1897. He was educated at the Darlington Deaf School from 1905 to 1910.
His involvement with the Deaf Community included serving as a member of the Council/Board of the Deaf Society from 1928 to 1940, but he was the chairman, Hon. Secretary or on the committee for almost every deaf activity at that time.
When the NSW Association of Deaf and Dumb Citizens was formed in 1929, he was also a prominent member of the Council and served as a joint editor with Fletcher Booth of the ‘Deaf Advocate’, a monthly journal for the deaf. In 1953, he was the first Hon. Secretary of the Deaf General Committee when it was reformed and eventually became its chairman, a position in which he continued for many years. He served as a Council member of the Deaf Society from the mid 1920s to 1940s except during the split. He also played an important part in reforming the Men’s Club as well as remaining active in promoting anything that benefited the Deaf Community.
In addition to his contributions to the Deaf Community, he was also involved with Deaf Sports. He served as a secretary for both Deaf Men’s Club and Deaf Cricket Club during the 1920s.
In his later years, his interest in Deaf Sports was more focused on Lawn Bowls. He was a foundation member of the Deaf Men’s Bowling Club that was formed in 1956 and served as their first President for ten years and a member of the committee for 23 years. The Bowlers made him a life member in 1961 and he became the Club’s first patron. The E L Quinnell Shield for the competition between State Teams commemorates has been named in honour of Ernest.
He worked for some 50 years as a collector for the NSW Association for Deaf and Dumb Citizens, then the Royal Institution for Deaf and Blind Children, and finally the Deaf Society till he retired.
Ernest Quinnell married Alma Josephine Brasington, who was also deaf and had seven children together, two of which were deaf Elizabeth (Betty) and Marie Rose. At the time of his death he had four grandchildren, Cordelia (Della Bampton), Tania Holton (deaf: nee Vaughan, Shayne Batten (deaf: nee Vaughan) and Ernest Vaughan and one great grandchild Danielle Lesley Bampton. Ernest passed away in 1979 at the age of 81. The Silent Messenger described him as a gentleman in every sense of the word –'a leader in the deaf community for over 60 years – a man loved, respected and admired for the tremendous work he did during his lifetime'.
Personal information from Della Bampton
Silent Messenger July 1979 DBR 308