CHARITY worker Ian Stillman is aiming to restart his work with the deaf in England.

Ian, himself disabled and profoundly deaf, was released from an Indian jail in December after thousands campaigned for his freedom.

He had to leave behind a foundation he had set up to work with Indian deaf people.

But his sister, Elspeth Dugdale, said he was starting to get involved with groups in this country.

Ian, whose parents Roy and Monica live in Tadcaster Road, York, is struggling to recover after two years in prison in the Himalayan foothills.

As well as being deaf, he had a leg amputated after a road accident and suffers from diabetes.

He was jailed for ten years for cannabis possession, a charge he always denied.

Elspeth said: "He is getting to the point now where he is looking at getting involved in other deaf organisations again.

"He is making good progress, but it is kind of slow. There is no official provision for dealing with the changes that Ian is facing, and if you feel you're just about coping you don't go looking for it."

Ian's wife, Sue, has now returned to India, where she is managing the charity that the couple set up there.

He is living with his son, Lennie, close to Elspeth's home in Romsey, Hampshire.

She said: "He still finds it quite tiring, but he's getting used to the new pace of life."

She said he was still planning to give a special gathering to say thanks to everybody who played a part in the campaign for his freedom.

"We are still planning to have a service of thanksgiving," she said.

"But we want to do it at a time when Ian can really enjoy it, when he's fit and he has regained his health. We are very grateful. I think back just a year, when the Supreme Court in India gave the thumbs-down to his appeal and we were at rock bottom, and I feel the elation that he's out."

The Evening Press gathered more than 5,400 signatures demanding Ian's release. The newspaper started campaigning after hearing he had been refused a sign language translator at his trial, effectively excluding him from it. He was freed following direct intervention by the British Government as his deteriorating health caused serious concern.

Updated: 09:34 Thursday, May 15, 2003