Category Archives: Disability

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

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

To find out more about World Diabetes Day see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – June 2021

Diabetes Awareness Week runs from 14 – 20 June and with this in mind we have chosen Nina Wadia as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the week.

Nina is an actor well-known for her roles in EastEnders, Still Open All Hours and Goodness Gracious Me.  She is also an Ambassador for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and has supported them since her son, Aidan, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2017 at the age of 10.

In 2019 Nina published a book on her family’s experiences of diabetes and the research undertaken to better understand the condition, with the idea of supporting children with type 1 diabetes, Bionic T1D.

The book empowers children who are facing the challenges of managing type 1 and helps them get to grips with type 1 technology such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors.

As well as supporting the type 1 community, Nina has given invaluable support to JDRF. She generously donated her winnings from Celebrity Catchphrase and Celebrity Tipping Point to JDRF, and in 2019 presented a BBC fundraising appeal on their behalf. She has also given her time by hosting an online event to celebrate the ground-breaking launch of the artificial pancreas.

In January 2021 she was award the OBE for her services to entertainment and charity.

To find out more about Diabetes Awareness Week see here

To find out more about Nina see here

Oscars 2021: A watershed moment for disability?

The Oscars are upon us once again – but change surrounds this year’s ceremony that goes far beyond the red carpet adjustments enforced by the pandemic.

As the most diverse Oscars ever in terms of nominees, the increased representation also extends to the films themselves – with disability explored in new depth.

Best picture contender Sound of Metal, about a drummer facing hearing loss, saw best actor nominee Riz Ahmed learn sign language for the role. His co-star Paul Raci, who is up for best supporting actor, is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) and many of the other actors are deaf in real life.

Elsewhere best documentary nominee Crip Camp explores how a 70s hippie camp for disabled youths affected the US disability rights movement; while nominated short Feeling Through has been praised for being the first modern-day film to star a deafblind actor, Robert Tarango. More

Unlocked: 35 female sports stars join charity programme to increase diversity in sport

Thirty-five leading sportswomen have joined a charity programme to tackle the lack of diversity across sport.

Footballers Nikita Parris and Caroline Weir and five-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockcroft are among those who have joined ‘Unlocked’, which has been set up by the Women’s Sport Trust.

The athletes share experiences and work with industry experts to help tackle issues relating to women in sport.

In total, 27 different sports are represented by the group.

“It has been a challenging year for many but as we come out of Covid-19 there is no better time to turbo-charge our effort and continue to unlock the value of women’s sport,” said Tammy Parlour, co-founder of the Women’s Sport Trust.

“We believe the best way to do this is by supporting these elite women and connecting them together.

“Individually they are strong advocates for change but together they are unstoppable.” More

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – May 2019

Deaf Awareness Week takes place between 6 and 12 May and with this in mind we have chosen Mat Gilbert as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Mat is a professional rugby union player currently playing for Hartpury College RFC.  Mat joined Hartpury from Worcester Warriors, having also played for Bath Rugby, the Scarlets and Modigliano (Italy).  

Apart from being an experienced player, Mat is unusual in that he has achieved all of this despite being severely deaf – he has played for the England Deaf team on numerous occasions and is tireless in his efforts to encourage more opportunities for deaf children to get involved in the sport.

Mat is a long-serving ambassador for the charity Action for Hearing Loss.  He supports many fundraising events across the UK and has been the guest speaker at the charity’s annual Christmas Carol Concert.

To find out more about Deaf Awareness Week see here

To find out more about Action for Hearing Loss

InSpirational Diversity Champion of the Month – March 2021

World Hearing Day is on 3 March and with that in mind we have chosen Eshaan Akbar as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Eshaan Akbar is a comedian who began performing stand-up in 2014. He has appeared on many tv shows including ‘Frankie Boyle’s New World Order’, BBC Two’s ‘Big Asian Stand Up’, as well as on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Now Show’, BBC Asian Network, and is a regular on TalkSPORT and LoveSport.

Eshaan, who is a proud hearing aid wearer, has been a staunch supporter of Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) having performed in their Laughing to Deaf comedy fundraiser for two consecutive years, featured in #DontBeADonut campaign for Deaf Awareness Week in 2019, and acted as a spokesperson in the national media, including ITV.

A regular face on the comedy circuit, Eshaan has supported Micky Flanagan, Dane Baptiste, Hal Cruttenden, Rory Bremner, and Jan Ravens.  

His show ‘Prophet Like It’s Hot’ at the Soho Theatre was a sell out, following a successful run at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Eshaan is a celebrity Ambassador for the Action on Hearing Loss charity.

To find out more about Eshaan see here To find out more about World Hearing Day see here–world–hearing–day/

inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – December 2020

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

Warwick began his career at the age of 11 when film producer George Lucas put out a call for actors under four feet tall. Soon Warwick was battling Stormtroopers in a galaxy far, far away as Wicket the Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. From there he went on to star in Willow, had several parts in the Harry Potter movies and has made numerous appearances in the Star Wars movies since.

He is also well known through his work on TV, including portraying a fictionalised version of himself in the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant sitcom, Life’s Too Short. He also starred in a season of the comedy travel show An Idiot Abroad with Karl Pilkington. Warwick has also appeared with survivalist Bear Grylls on Bear’s Mission with Warwick Davis.

In 2014 Warwick became the first disabled person to regularly present a primetime show when he hosted ITV’s Celebrity Squares. For the last four years he’s presented ITV’s quiz show Tenable.

Warwick helps others build careers in show business through the talent agency Willow Management, which he co-founded. The agency specialises in representing actors under five foot tall, working for positive representation and more than niche roles.

He also founded the Reduced Height Theatre Company which casts theatrical productions entirely with actors who are little people, giving talented short actors a platform and also produced a musical, Eugenius!, which has had multiple theatre runs.

Warwick co-founded the charity Little People UK, which provides support to people with dwarfism and their families.

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

To find out more about Warwick see here To find out more about Little People UK see here