Dr Alice Maynard is one of many disabled people recognised in the latest new year honours list.
Maynard, who is made a CBE for services to disabled people and their families, was chair of the disability charity Scope from 2008 to 2014, is a founding director of the Association of Chairs, and is founder of the consultancy Future Inclusion.
She said the recognition was “amazing” and “brilliant”, and was probably largely due to her work with Scope, which she said was a “good organisation” that is “making significant difference for disabled people and their families”.
One of her achievements, she said, was to work with the charity to ensure that its work was carried out more “co-productively” with disabled people.
She said she hoped the CBE was also recognition of her pioneering work in the transport industry, which dates back to her first piece of research in 1992.
But she stressed that progress in such areas was slow and halting. “You look at what you have achieved but you think, ‘It’s not there yet, it’s not good enough yet.’
“Some things that you do, particularly in the disability arena, get undone. A lot of what you do in disability and equality issues is really two steps forward and one step back, or even one-and-a-half or two steps back. That’s why it takes so long to achieve things.”
She added: “I am really grateful to the organisations that I have worked with, because you don’t get this kind of thing by your sole efforts.
“It is a reflection of the people I have worked with, the organisations I have worked with, the things we have done together, and so I am really grateful to those organisations right across the sphere that have enabled me to do really interesting stuff. In particular, I am really grateful to Scope.”
Maynard said she was “not a crusading campaigner” but instead was good at working with organisations.
She said she hoped the recognition might enable her to work with “some bigger, more mainstream organisations and make change happen there that really benefits disabled people across society and to create a fairer society because there is an awful lot of unfairness and injustice out there that needs dealing with”.
Elsewhere in the honours list, an OBE is awarded to Conservative MP Charles Walker, who was one of the MPs who spoke about their own mental health conditions in a Commons debate in June 2012.
He has campaigned and spoken out repeatedly on mental health issues, particularly around efforts to reduce stigma.
April Barrett, a board member of the Dwarf Sports Association UK, chair of Birmingham Disability Sports Forum, and previously a board member of the English Federation of Disability Sport for 10 years, receives an MBE for services to disability sport.
She still competes in the shotput and javelin at the National Dwarf Games, and held the British record for the shotput in the over-35 category for many years before it was finally broken two years ago.
She said: “I campaign for equality. We are all born equal so let’s try and make society equal in whatever way we can.
“I would like to think I have played a part in helping to get people on the road to enjoying life and seeing ourselves as just ordinary people.”
She said she was “dumbfounded” when she was told she was to be given an MBE, and said she saw it as “an award for every restricted growth person in the country”.
She said: “It is something someone with restricted growth has achieved instead of seeing someone in the circus or on television or in pantomime.”
John Jenkins, a retired Paralympian, at table-tennis, and a former national champion at swimming, also receives an MBE.
He is the long-standing president and founder member of the disability sports charity SportsAble, a grassroots sports and social club in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and is recognised for services to disability sport.
SportsAble said Jenkins had “played an integral part in promoting and sustaining disability sport” in the south-east of England, and described him as “the anchor that holds SportsAble steady”, and its “lead volunteer – in actions as well as in words – in fundraising, sporting events and plans for the future”.
Jenkins is playing a lead role in the charity’s plans to turn the club into a regional centre of excellence for disability sport.
Another disabled MBE recipient is Joe Fisher, a patron and founding member of the Newcastle branch of The British Polio Fellowship (BPF), who is recognised for his services to charity, particularly BPF.
Fisher, now 92, has devoted more than 60 years’ service to the charity, after joining at the age of 26 and establishing a branch in Newcastle.
Six years later his branch bought a building and converted it into a hostel and training centre, which allowed people with polio to live on-site while learning a new trade.
The charity said this was a “revolutionary idea in the 50s, later expanded and developed by governments and charities alike”.
Fisher was also one of the early UK pioneers of selling charity Christmas cards, and at its height a team of 30 people with polio were employed full-time, with a turnover that today would be worth £3 million-a-year.
He said: “People were fully trained in the role they performed and these skills allowed them to secure mainstream employment.
“We trained people in the print side, invoicing, banking, accountancy, packing, order receipt, you name it.
“Once they had the skills, they could get out into the community to live normal lives and get work.
“It was organised, paid for and run by those living with polio and to support those with polio who had nowhere else to turn.”
He said he was “stunned, humbled, but of course very, very happy” to be recognised with an MBE, but pointed out that “many people worked hard to make the Newcastle branch of The British Polio Fellowship such a success”.
Also receiving an MBE is Frank Letch, who is recognised for services to disabled people and the community in Crediton, Devon.
Among his many years of voluntary service, he has spent 18 years as a board member of the charity Reach, which supports children with upper limb difference.
He is currently an ambassador for Reach, fundraising and raising awareness through visits to schools and other organisations.
The retired languages teacher is also a former ambassador for the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a past chair of his local access group, a board member and coach with the British Association for Cricketers with Disabilities, and a volunteer with the visual impairment charity Devon in Sight.
Letch has been elected mayor of Crediton’s town council seven times, and plans to stand again at this May’s elections.
He said he was “surprised and pleased” to be recognised, and paid tribute to the support of his wife Natalia over the last eight years.
He said he hoped his MBE might lead to more invitations to deliver talks, particularly to those in business who should learn that they “must not judge the book by its cover”.
Among other disabled people awarded MBEs is Joyce Mouriki, chair and co-founder of Voices of eXperience, who is recognised for services to mental healthcare.
She is also vice-chair and co-founder of her local service-user and carer organisation, is employed in patient and public involvement with NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, and is a member of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland.
7 January 2015