All posts by Liz Laurence

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – December 2021

On 3 December it is International Day of People with Disabilities and with that in mind we have chosen Cerrie Burnell as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Cerrie is an author, actor and activist, best known for work on CBeebies, a role which has earned her critical recognition and a devoted fan base. She has broken down barriers, challenged stereotypes and overcome discrimination to become one of the most visible disabled presenters on kids’ TV. Alongside this Cerrie has worked closely with a number of charitable organisations linked to childhood and diversity, which she is passionate about.

She trained at Manchester Metropolitan School of Acting, her credits prior to CBeebies include Grange Hill where she played the role of Miss Green, Eastenders, The Bill, Comedy Lab, Holby City and many plays including Winged: a fairytale which she wrote and starred in.

Cerrie is also the author of 12 children’s books including Snowflakes, which she adapted for the stage with Oxford Playhouse in 2016 and the Harper series, which was a world book day title in 2016.

Her one woman show the Magical Playroom premiered at the Edinburgh fringe in 2013 and she has been listed by The Observer as one of the top 10 children’s presenters of all time.

She is a patron of Polka Theatre, London and The Story Museum in Oxford. She has been an author in residence at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and BookTrust.

In 2017, Cerrie was awarded an honorary degree for services to Media from The Open University and she became the BBC’s first ambassador for disability in June 2021.

Also in 2021 Cerrie came third in The Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 list.

To find out more about International Day of People with Disabilities see here https://idpwd.org/

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month

World Diabetes Day is 14 November and with that in mind we have chosen Sheku Kanneh-Mason as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month.

Sheku is a British cellist who won the 2016 BBC Young Musician award. He was the first Black musician to win the competition since its launch in 1978. He began learning the cello at the age of six. His love for the cello started when he saw his sister perform in ‘Stringwise’, an annual weekend course for young Nottingham string players, run by the local music charity Music for Everyone. At the age of nine, he passed the Grade 8 cello examination with the highest marks in the UK and won the Marguerite Swan Memorial Prize. Also aged nine he won an ABRSM junior scholarship to join the Junior Academy of the Royal Academy of Music, where he was tutored by Ben Davies.

In 2015, he and his siblings were competitors on Britain’s Got Talent as The Kanneh-Masons.  Also he was a member of the Chineke! Orchestra, which was founded by Chi-chi Nwanoku for black and minority ethnic classical musicians; his sister Isata Kanneh-Mason and brother Braimah are also members.

In 2017 Sheku performed at the British Academy Film Awards and in February 2018 became the first artist ever to be re-invited to perform a second time playing “Evening of Roses” by Josef Hadar where he was joined on stage by four of his siblings: Isata, Braimah, Konya, and Jeneba.

On 19 May 2018, he performed as part of the musical selections for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

In 2020 he was awarded an MBE for services to music and in March 2020, he won the public vote for Best Classical Artist at the Global Awards.

At the age of 12 Sheku was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In September 2018, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) announced that it had appointed him as a global ambassador. He is also an ambassador for the charities Music Masters and Future Talent.

To find out more about Sheku see here https://www.shekukannehmason.com/

To find out more about World Diabetes Day see here https://worlddiabetesday.org/

Josh Cavallo: ‘I’m a footballer and I’m gay,’ says Australian player

Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo has come out as gay, becoming the only current male professional footballer in the world to do so.

The 21-year-old wrote on social media that he was “ready to speak about something personal that I’m finally comfortable to talk about in my life”.

“I’m a footballer and I’m gay,” the midfielder said in an accompanying video.

“All I want to do is play football and be treated equally.” More

King’s Cross: Plaque unveiled for Britain’s first black train driver

A plaque has been unveiled commemorating Britain’s first black train driver.

Jamaican-born Wilston Samuel Jackson began maintaining trains shortly after moving to London in 1952, and became a driver 10 years later.

He had a long and successful career on the railway, including driving the famous Flying Scotsman locomotive.

At the unveiling at King’s Cross station, Mr Jackson’s daughter said he “dedicated his life to the railway”.

“He was never late or missed a day, and he was so proud of his work, despite the many challenges he faced,” Polly Jackson said.

“Today was a fitting tribute to his life and career.” More

First new treatment for sickle cell in 20 years

The first new sickle-cell treatment in 20 years will help keep thousands of people out of hospital over the next three years, NHS England has said.

Sickle-cell disease is incurable and affects 15,000 people in the UK.

And the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said the hope of reducing health inequalities for black people, who are predominantly affected and often have poorer health to start with, made the drug worth recommending.

It called it “an innovative treatment”. More

LGBT Sport Podcast at 200: Jessica Andrade, Gareth Thomas, Jack Dunne and other memorable episodes

There was the cricket match that made history. The 9/11 hero who inspired the world’s largest amateur rugby tournament. The Formula 1 world champion who spoke out as an LGBTQ+ ally. And the elite referee who shared his story publicly for the first time.

The LGBT Sport Podcast has covered all of those stories – and many, many more – over its 200 episodes. So picking out its most memorable moments is quite a challenge.

When we published our very first podcast on 25 September 2018, with a basic and only a general understanding of how to get episodes into a person’s feed, we weren’t sure how long we would be around for.

Yet in the three years since, we’ve covered a wealth of stories across more than 40 sports. More

The Magic Circle appoints its youngest, and first female, president

Times have changed in the magic industry. Tricks aren’t just about sawing people in half these days – they also teach people about climate change.

It’s different at the top too – a 28-year-old woman has been elected president of The Magic Circle.

It’s the first time a woman has held the title in its 116 year history.

Megan Swann is now the president of the organisation, founded in 1905, for British magicians.

She’s also its youngest. More

Sara Cox to become first woman to referee Premiership game

Sara Cox is set to make history on Saturday as the first woman to referee a Premiership game.

Cox will take charge of Harlequins’ home opener against Worcester Warriors.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) made Cox the world’s first female professional rugby referee in March 2016.

Last year, she became the first female assistant referee in English rugby’s top flight and was the first woman to take charge of an English top-tier game in the Premiership Rugby Cup in 2018.

“Huge congratulations to Sara Cox,” Premiership Rugby tweeted.

“She’ll become the first woman to referee a #GallagherPrem league game on Saturday. Continually making history.”

First UK LGBT business champion appointed

The UK’s first LGBT business champion has pledged to build a bridge between the government and the LGBT community.

Iain Anderson, executive chairman of public relations firm Cicero, will focus on improving workplace equality at a small business level.

One CIPD report suggested 40% of LGBT employees had experienced conflict at work, rising to 55% of trans employees.

Earlier this year, the government’s LGBT advisory panel was disbanded after several members quit.

One, Jayne Ozanne, accused the government of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT people.

The members left over the government’s handling of LGBT rights and amid claims it was “dragging its feet” on a pledge to ban so-called conversion therapy.

“I definitely see my role as a link between the LGBT community, government and business and I want to build a bridge between the three parties,” Mr Anderson said.

“If businesses see me, and in turn government, putting in place tangible ways to allow LGBT people to be themselves, they’ll understand that this is a priority area and do more about it.”

Mr Anderson, a Stonewall ambassador, was appointed to the new unpaid position by equalities minister Liz Truss. More

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – September 2021

World Alzheimer’s Month is the international campaign every September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. September 2021 will mark the 10th World Alzheimer’s Month. The campaign was launched in 2012 and World Alzheimer’s Day is on 21 September each year.

With that in mind we have chosen Phyllis Logan as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Phyllis is one of the most recognisable faces on British television, having starred as Lady Jane Felsham for eight years in the BBC’s much-loved antiques comedy drama, Lovejoy, before becoming synonymous with another British classic, Downton Abbey, in which she rules the roost as housekeeper Mrs Carson, nee Hughes.

In 1983 she won a BAFTA for most promising newcomer for her role in the emotional drama Another Time, Another Place and she has numerous other film credits to her name, including Nativity! and the Mike Leigh classic Secrets and Lies.

Phyllis is a Dementia UK Ambassador and a passionate supporter of Dementia UK’s work, having witnessed her mother’s struggles with a cognitive impairment and her mother-in-law’s difficulty following a diagnosis of dementia.

She has appeared on television multiple times to promote Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Helpline and our Time for a Cuppa fundraiser – each time causing a huge spike in calls.

To find out more about Phyllis see here

To find out more about World Alzheimer’s Day see here