Tributes have been paid to Douglas Campbell, who spent more than half a century campaigning for “proper independent mobility” for disabled people, and who died in the early hours of Boxing Day.
In addition to his campaigning work, he spent more than 20 years in professional practice as a chartered accountant, mostly working for himself, before joining The Disabled Drivers’ Association (DDA) in 1995 as its executive director.
After DDA merged with The Disabled Drivers’ Motor Club in 2005, he spent four years as a trustee of the new organisation, Mobilise – now renamed Disabled Motoring UK – three of them as chair.
He also spent four years at The Disability Resource Centre (DRC) in Bedfordshire, leading its direct payments support service.
He ran his own disability consultancy firm for more than 20 years, specialising in personal mobility, parking and access issues, and offering management consultancy for small and medium-sized charities.
He was awarded an OBE in 2002 for services to the mobility of disabled people.
Among many other roles, he worked as an Expert by Experience for the Care Quality Commission, inspecting care facilities, and was a member of the council of governors of Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Helen Dolphin, an expert on blue badge and disabled people’s parking issues and chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee’s personal mobility working group, who worked with Campbell at Mobilise, said he had been an “inspiration” to her.
She first met him about 20 years ago when she was interviewing him for ITV Anglia about parking for disabled people.
She said: “We became great friends from that day onwards and when the position came up at Mobilise he encouraged me to apply and became my boss for the next few years.
“It is because of Douglas that I got into campaigning for disabled motorists and he was always a great source of knowledge.”
She said their last conversation was about his concerns that removing the European Union symbol from blue parking badges would make them difficult for disabled people to use across Europe.
She added: “He was an inspiration to me as well as a good friend and I will miss him terribly.”
Melanie Hawman, DRC’s chief executive, said: “We are very sad to hear of the passing of Douglas Campbell OBE who worked diligently to raise awareness of disability rights, particularly with regard to travel and parking.
“Douglas (pictured) was an avid campaigner for disabled people, their families and their right to have exactly the same opportunities as everyone else.
“He worked tirelessly in a voluntary capacity and also as a service manager for The Disability Resource Centre in Dunstable.
“During his tenure he oversaw the implementation and growth of the direct payments support service, which allows people to have choice and control in managing their care needs themselves.”
She said this was something Campbell was “very passionate about”.
She added: “Douglas was a champion with a kind heart and will be fondly remembered by the board of trustees and the staff at The Disability Resource Centre.”