Category Archives: Disability

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – December 2013


Evelyn Glennie Pic 2


3rd December is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, with this in mind we have chosen Evelyn Glennie as our Diversity Champion for December.

Evelyn is a Scottish virtuoso percussionist.  She studied at Ellon Academy and the Royal Academy of Music, and was also a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.  She has been profoundly deaf since the age of 12, having started to lose her hearing from the age of 8.

Evelyn  is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist.

She regularly plays barefoot during both live performances and studio recordings in order to feel the music better.  Evelyn contends that deafness is largely misunderstood by the public. She claims to have taught herself to hear with parts of her body other than her ears. In response to criticism from the media, Glennie published “Hearing Essay” in which she discusses her condition.

She takes part in over 100 concerts a year as well as master classes and “music in schools” performances; she frequently commissions percussion works from composers and performs them in her concert repertoire.  She also plays the  Highland Bagpipes and has her own registered tartan known as “The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie”.  In 2012, she collaborated with Underworld at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games performing live in the stadium.

Evelyn was awarded an OBE in 1993 and became a Dame in 2007.

She has won many other awards, including:

  • Best Chamber Music Performance in the Grammy Awards of 1989
  • Scot of the Year 1982
  • Queen’s Commendation prize for all round excellence 1985
  • Scotswoman of the Decade 1990
  • Best Studio and Live Percussionist from Rhythm Magazine 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003 & 2004
  • Walpole Medal of Excellence 2002
  • Musical America Instrumentalist of the Year 2003
  • Sabian Lifetime Achievement Award 2006
  • Percussive Arts Society: Hall of Fame – November 2008

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – November 2013



November is Inspirational Role Models Month and with this in mind we have chosen Tanni Grey-Thompson as our Inspirational Diversity Champion.

Tanni who was born with spina bifida is considered to be one of the most successful disabled athletes in the world. She was christened Carys, but her sister referred to her as “tiny” when she first saw her, pronouncing it “tanni” and the name stuck.

Tanni first representated Wales at wheelchair racing in 1984 making her paralympic debut in Seoul in 1988. Over her career she won a total of 16 paralympic medals, including 11 golds, held over 30 world records and won the London Marathon six times between 1992 and 2002.

She retired following the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in 2007. In preparation for her retirement from the track, she expanded her television presenting career on BBC Wales, SC4 and BBC One.

Tanni is a non-executive director for UK Athletics, sits on the board of the London Marathon and the board of Transport for London. She is Chair of the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport. She is Vice-Chairman of the Laureus World Sport Academy and a trustee of the Sport for Good Foundation. She is also a Council member for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and an International Inspiration Ambassador. As well as this she is the Patron of the Tees Wheelyboats Club, a group providing disabled people with access to the Rivers Tees and Chair of the Tony Blaire Sports Foundation.

In March 2010, she was created a Life Peer, in 1993 she was awarded an MBE and OBE for “services to sport”, and in 2005 became a Dame. She has been BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year three times; in 1992, 2000 and 2004. In 2000, she came third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and she also received the Helen Rollason Award for her performance at the 2000 Summer Paralympics.

In July this year the University awarded Tanni a degree of Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of her long service to disability and disadvantaged people, as well as to sport and the Paralympic games.

Why Sport Needs to Talk about its Mental Health Secrets

“I only felt pain – being numb was better.”

If Graeme Fowler, an English cricketer who scored a century against West Indies when that was something to ring church bells for, was talking about a broken thumb you would not bat an eyelid.

Injuries are occupational hazards in professional sport. Everybody gets them and everybody has to get over them.

But what if this is an injury you cannot see? What if the pain is in your head and you cannot tell anybody about it?

Fowler was one of the most exciting domestic batsmen of the 1980s and never looked like a man in turmoil at the crease, which was more than could usually be said of the national team.

This image of a man without too many cares was seemingly confirmed by his reputation as a dressing-room joker and later as a cheery presence in the BBC broadcasting booth.

But by 2004 his occasional bouts of dark introspection had become serious. He had not left the house for six weeks and was unable to do even the simplest of tasks.   More …

Sport and Depression

Disabled Students ‘Need Campus Help’

Disabled students are calling on UK universities to do more to help them take part fully in campus life.

A study by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Trailblazers suggests many students are unable to access areas such as lecture theatres and libraries.

disabled students

It says many institutions are failing to signpost key information such as details of accessible accommodation.

The Equality Challenge Unit said many universities were working hard to be as accessible and welcoming as possible. More …

Paralympian Danielle Brown Wins First Able-Bodied British Title

Two-time Paralympic champion Danielle Brown won her first able-bodied British title with victory at the Archery GB National Series finals in Nottingham.

The 25-year-old London 2012 gold medallist beat Lucy O’Sullivan 142-141 in a tense compound final.

“It’s a pretty phenomenal standard and the fact I’m up there with these archers is a great confidence boost,” Brown told BBC Sport.  More …

Danielle Brown

‘Jury is out’ on Paralympics Legacy, Charities Warn

One year on from the Paralympics, the event’s legacy “hangs in the balance” as attitudes towards disabled people fail to improve, charities have warned.

Disability charity Scope called the Games’ success a “breakthrough moment”.

But 81% of disabled people questioned in a new poll say attitudes have not improved. More …

Para Flag Agitos 2

Greenwich Students Offer Big Plans to Charlton Athletic

Improvements to disabled facilities at Charlton Athletic’s stadium are among the ideas pitched to the club by students from the University of Greenwich.

The students, who have all just graduated from the university’s School of Architecture & Construction, met with representatives from the Championship club and its Community Trust to discuss their ideas to improve The Valley’s away section in the South Stand.

Christine Gausden, Senior Lecturer at the university, says: “The students were set a brief which required them to come up with proposals to improve the seating arrangements for disabled supporters in the south stand at The Valley. They were also asked for ways to maximise the benefit on non match days from the strip of land in Valley Grove, which is currently leased by the club from the Thames Water Authority, for use as a match day car park. More …


Honorary Awards for Baroness Amos and Baroness Grey-Thompson

Baroness-Amos-and-Baroness-Grey-ThompsonThe University of Greenwich is awarding honorary degrees today (Tuesday 30 July) to Baroness Amos, the first black woman to become a Cabinet minister, and to champion Paralympic athlete Baroness ‘Tanni’ Grey-Thompson.

They are both being honoured in graduation ceremonies taking place at Rochester Cathedral.  More …


Different Backgrounds Lead to Different Student Experiences of HE

HEFCE’s recent report Higher education and beyond: outcomes from full-time first degree study highlights that students experience and benefit from higher education differently depending on their background. The report looks at degree attainment and subsequent employment of students from the 2006/07 cohort.

The report highlights that disabled students receiving Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) are more likely to achieve a 1st or 2:1 degree than disabled students who don’t receive DSA. On completion of their first degree, they are also more likely to be in employment or further study, and more likely to be in a graduate job.

The report also adds to the growing body of evidence that students from minority ethnic backgrounds have a different experience of HE from their white peers. This points to the need for more inclusive curriculum design, assessments and culture.

Equality Challenge Unit have produced guidance in response to the report, found at: