Category Archives: Disability

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month – January 2021

World Braille Day is on 4 January and with that in mind we have chosen Libby Clegg as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Libby is a champion Paralympian athlete who has a deteriorating eye condition known as Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy disease giving her only slight peripheral vision in her left eye and she is registered blind.

Formerly a keen ballet dancer, Libby took up athletics aged 10, first competing in middle distance and cross country running before taking up sprinting, she burst onto the international scene aged 16 at the 2006 World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands, when she won a silver medal in the T12 200m.

Libby made her Paralympic debut in Beijing in 2008, winning a silver medal in the T12 100m. Later that year, she was awarded third place in the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.  At London 2012, Libby won her T12 100m heat in a world record time of 12.17 seconds to qualify for the semi-finals and in the final, she ran a time of 12.13 to set a new personal best and take the silver medal.

Crowned Commonwealth Champion in 2014, Libby had to miss a number of major competitions through illness and injury. She was reclassified as a T11 sprinter in 2016 and went on to set a world record in the T11 200m at July’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final. Libby began working with guide runner Chris Clarke in February 2016 and the pair claimed T11 100m and 200m gold at Rio 2016.

In April 2019 Libby and her partner Dan Powell became parents to son Edward, however she was training by the summer, competing at the World Championships later that year.

In 2017 she was awarded an MBE for services to athletics and charity and has been awarded Scottish Athletics Athlete of the year a record seven times.

Libby is an Ambassador for Guide Dogs for the Blind and has her own guide dog Hattie and helps to support them by raising issues in the media.

To find out more about World Braille Day see here To find out more about Libby see here

Inspirational Diversity CHampion of the Month – August 2020

12 August is International Youth Day and with that in mind we have chosen Dante Marvin as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.  Dante is a Young Ambassador for Variety, the Children’s Charity and Variety North West.

Dante was born with brittle bone disease and scoliosis. He has spent most of his young life in and out of hospital for treatment, including painful rod replacement surgery in his legs.  But refuses to let it get him down. He tells everyone he meets: “There are no disabilities, only abilities.”  It sums up the indomitable spirit of a youngster who inspires everyone he meets with his remarkable zest for life.

Dante first became involved with the children’s charity Variety when his mum Rachel asked for help to buy a new wheelchair. During the home visit, Dante dazzled the assessor with his optimistic outlook and she asked him to speak at an event.

His motto was a key mantra of his speech, which was such a success he now speaks regularly to audiences of adults to raise awareness while encouraging them to dig deep for the cause, helping to raise £30,000 for a Sunshine Bus.

Dante also visits other seriously ill and disabled children in hospital, not only bringing light and laughter to the wards, but also identifying children who could benefit from Variety’s support. He petitions the charity on their behalf for equipment such as lightweight wheelchairs and he’s even been known to do it when undergoing treatment himself.

His message to others is be resilient, be brave and never give up and just because you are disabled, you are no different to anyone else. Never forget that.”

To find out more about Dante see here

To find out more about International Youth Day see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – June 2020

From 8 – 14 June it is Diabetes Awareness Week and with that in mind we have chosen Gary Mabbutt as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month.

Gary was a professional footballer who made more than 750 appearances playing for Bristol Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur, and also won 16 caps for England. He is best remembered for his 16-year spell at Tottenham Hotspur, where he played from 1982 until 1998, winning the UEFA Cup in 1984 and the FA Cup in 1991.  His final appearance for the club came against Southampton on the last day of the 1997–98 season.

Gary has type 1 diabetes, and became an icon for many children with the condition. He famously appeared on the BBC’s children’s television programme Blue Peter where he demonstrated injecting insulin into an orange to show how he dealt with his condition on a daily basis.

After more than two decades in the sport, Gary is now Vice President and Patron of Diabetes UK, using his status as a well-known diabetic to raise awareness of the condition and encourage people with diabetes to live full lives. 

He currently works as an ambassador for Tottenham Hotspur football club as well as the Football Association, Diabetes UK and the Willow Foundation a national charity that provides special days for seriously ill 11-40 year olds.

Gary was awarded an MBE in the 1994 New Year Honours for services to football.

To find out more about Diabetes Awareness Week click here

To find out more about Gary see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – April 2020

World Austim Awareness Day is on 2 April and with this in mind we have chosen Chris Packham as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month.  Chris is a naturalist, nature photographer, television presenter and author.

He is particularly known for his work as a television presenter, which began in 1986 with the BAFTA-winning BBC1 children’s programme The Really Wild Show and nature photography series Wild Shots on Channel 4.

Since June 2009, he has co-presented the BBC Two nature programme Springwatch and its sister programmes Autumnwatch and Winterwatch.

He formed the production company Head Over Heels with producer Stuart Woodman, making wildlife programmes for Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC.

In October 2017, he presented a documentary about his experience as a high-functioning person with Asperger’s, ‘Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me’ and at the same time he became an Ambassador for the National Autistic Society.

He is vice-president of the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, Butterfly Conservation, the Brent Lodge Bird & Wildlife Trust, The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Grace Secondary School (The Sudan) and a patron of many others.

In 2011 he was awarded the Dilys Breese Medal, by the British Trust for Ornithology, for his “outstanding work in promoting science to new audiences”.

In December 2013, he was made an honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Southampton, having originally graduated from the university more than 30 years earlier.

In December 2014, Packham was voted “Conservation Hero of the Year” by readers of Birdwatch magazine in association with the online BirdGuides website for his work in publicising the illegal slaughter in Malta of millions of migrating birds.

In October 2016 he received a Wildscreen Panda Award for Outstanding Achievement and in 2019 he was awarded a CBE for services to nature conservation.

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month – March 2020

World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. With this in mind we have chosen Samantha Baines as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month. Samantha is an award-winning comedian, actor, hearing aid wearer and Action on Hearing Loss Ambassador.

She compared the charity’s first ever Laughing to Deaf comedy fundraiser in 2018, has acted as a spokesperson in the national media, featured in multiple social media campaigns, and this year will be returning to compare Laughing to Deaf at London’s Comedy Store, headlined by John Bishop.

Samantha’s acting credits include The Crown, Silent Witness, Call the Midwife and several BBC Comedies and she currently stars in Magic Mike Live in London’s West End. Samantha is also a broadcaster and works regularly with BBC Radio stations as well as writing children’s books!   She doesn’t let her hearing loss or tinnitus get in her way and is passionate about raising awareness of the signs of hearing loss and tinnitus as well as the mental health conditions that may stem from them.  

Find out more about World Hearing Day here–world–hearing–day  

Find out more about Samantha here  

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month

4 January is World Braille day and with that in mind we have chosen Mike Brace as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Born in Hackney, East London, in 1950, Mike has always loved sport. However, at the age of ten, his life dramatically changed. Blinded in one eye, after an accident with fireworks, Mike then lost sight in his second eye two years later from a detached retina. At 12, he reluctantly went to a specialist boarding school, but there he re-discovered his love of sport.

In 1973 he founded the Metro Sports Club for the Blind. Later, he helped set up The British Paralympic Association, British Blind Sport and the British Ski Club for the Disabled.

Mike went on to become a successful cross-country skier. He managed, and competed in, the Paralympic ski team. A talented and versatile athlete, aged 33, he completed the Devizes to Westminster 125-mile canoe marathon. It took him and his guide 27 hours of non-stop canoeing, without sleep, in the worst weather conditions in the history of the race.

As a board member of both the successful Olympic and Paralympic 2012 Bid Team, Mike was appointed to the London Organising Committee for London 2012 and later became CEO for the newly formed VISION 2020 UK, an organisation which unites various charities, including RNIB, and health services involved in sight loss.

Mike recently won this year’s lifetime achievement award at the RNIB See Differently Awards for his outstanding contribution to business, sport and charity, changing perceptions of disability and inspiring thousands. In 2003 Mike was awarded an OBE and, in 2009, a CBE for Services to Disabled Sport. He was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of London in July 2016.

To find out more about World Braille Day see here

To find out more about Mike see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – December 2019

3 December is International Day of Persons with Disabilities and with this in mind we have chosen Mike Oliver as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month. Sadly Mike died in March following a short illness and this is the first time we have had a posthumous Champion. 

Mike was a Professor Emeritus of Disability Studies at the University of Greenwich who spoke, wrote and published books including Understanding Disability, The Politics of Disablement and The New Politics of Disablement.

He was the first Professor of Disability Studies and was best known as the person who named and popularised the concept of the ‘social model’ of disability which states that it is the way society is organised which is disabling, not a person’s impairments or medical diagnosis.

In his work he comprehensively explained that society is the disability not the individual and goes on to demonstrate that by changing society by removing disabling barriers, disability could be minimised to the point of eradication. As Mike once described it, this different approach to disability: “changed it from being a medical issue to being a human rights issue.”

Countless change-makers who have shaped the legislation, policies, and world which exists today credit him and the social model as being their ‘lightbulb moment’. The initial concept was not his own creation: the principles were laid out in a 1976 pamphlet produced by the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Discrimination. However, Mike developed the term and popularised it with his 1983 book Social Work With Disabled People.

The book was originally written as course materials for healthcare professionals Mike was training, but it came out at a fortuitous time for the growing disability rights movement. The social model gave campaigners the framework to address disability discrimination, and the concept became a tool to address underlying assumptions.

Mike is remembered as the father of the social model, the person who founded disability studies as an academic discipline, and the man who ignited a movement and changed the lives of millions of disabled people around the globe.

  To find out more about International Day of Persons with Disabilities see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – November 2019

World Diabetes Day is 14 November, with that in mind we have chosen Henry Slade as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Henry is a professional rugby player who signed his first professional contract with Exeter Chiefs at the age of 18, the same year in which he also developed type 1 diabetes.

He has adapted to life with diabetes but admitted there was a moment he thought his career may have come to a premature end.  He could not understand how he could continue to play and have diabetes.

Fortunately he was told his rugby career would not be jeopardised, providing he was able to control his diabetes.  He quickly educated himself on what management routines worked for training and matches, what worked best for himself and took advice from fellow rugby professional Chris Pennell who is also diabetic.

Henry has not let his diabetes hinder any of his ambitions.  He was called into the England squad in 2014 and is currently part of the England Squad at the World Cup in Japan.

When asked if diabetes has changed him, he answered: “I wouldn’t say it’s changed my life. The way I look at it is you can’t change what’s happened to you. I’ve got diabetes and it’s something I just have to live with.

To find out more about World Diabetes Day see here To find out more about Henry see here