Queen’s birthday honours: Leaders and activists recognised with honours


Disabled and Deaf leaders, activists and volunteers have been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours for their campaigning and charity work.

Among those recognised with an MBE was Kath Gillespie-Sells, who founded the disabled lesbian gay bisexual and transgender organisation Regard in 1989.

Now semi-retired, she still works part-time as an equality consultant and a psychotherapist, as well as working “in the background” for Regard.

She described her award as “a recognition, a communication to our world, to our community”.

Others recognised included Jackie Clifton, the founder of Musicians in Focus, who receives an MBE for services to music and visually-impaired people.

She has worked to secure better access to the computer software which allows blind students to take music degree courses.

She said: “There was virtually no access when we started and now there is quite good access and there are a lot more young people coming through to do a music degree, either at music college or university.

“The ones that first started with us at junior college are now approaching the final years of their degree. I am very hopeful that they will go out there and find work for themselves.”

Asif Iqbal, media and project manager for Deaf Parenting UK, said he was “shocked” and “humbled and honoured” to be awarded an MBE for services to deaf and disabled people.

Among his other roles, he is a public appointments ambassador for the Cabinet Office and Government Equalities Office, a member of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, a board member of RADAR, and a member of the British Council’s disability advisory panel.

Peter Pullan, co-founder and former chair of STAGETEXT – the user-led charity which provides and promotes captioning and speech-to-text transcription for theatre and other cultural events – receives an MBE for services to Deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing people.

He said he was “delighted” by the honour but also paid tribute to Merfyn Williams and Geoff Brown, who co-founded the organization in 2000.

Richard Lee, STAGETEXT’s current chair, said Pullan had been a “powerful and persuasive advocate for the availability of captioning and speech-to-text transcription in all areas of the UK’s cultural life”.

John Knight, the former director of policy and campaigns for Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD), receives a CBE for services to disabled people.

LCD said Knight had spent 16 years with the charity, “building up our campaigning work from next to nothing”, and had combined this with other roles, including as a magistrate, a board member of the Office for Disability Issues, a commissioner with the Commission for Social Care Inspection and as a Charity Commissioner.

Keith Boot, chair of Amber Valley Access Group, receives an MBE for voluntary service to disabled people in Derbyshire.

The former plumber has been involved with the access group for nearly 20 years, and also advises Amber Valley council on access issues.

He said: “I just try to help people. I realise what it is like to be severely disabled and realise that other people need some help.”

Margaret Oldham receives an MBE for services to disabled people in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

She said: “I am just shocked. I have spent 25 years as a disabled person working with disabled people and I just didn’t think that anybody would honour me in this way, which is lovely.”

She is chair of DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney and was previously manager of the charity for 17 years, and still leads efforts to raise an annual £40,000 to keep the organisation alive. She also spent 12 years as chair of Waveney Coalition of Disabled People, Carers and Professionals, and 13 years as chair of Suffolk Disability Information Group.

John Fieldus, a fundraising consultant with the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), was also awarded an MBE. The charity said he was an “exceptional man” and praised his “persistence and tenacity”.

SIA said Fieldus had raised a “vast sum of money” since he began working for the charity 26 years ago, and that his motivation was “not one of self-benefit but rather what can be achieved for others”.

Other disabled people recognised with MBEs included Richard Gleadhill, from York, who has raised funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Jan Dinsdale, for services to blind golf in Northern Ireland.

16 June 2011