New year’s honours recognise campaigners, inventor and Paralympians

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Disability rights campaigners, an inventor and a Paralympic athlete are among the disabled people recognised in the latest new year’s honours list.

Among the 1,123 people who have received an award, five per cent – about 60 – consider themselves to be disabled people.

Among recipients of a CBE – for services to sport and accessibility – was Joyce Cook, chair of the disabled supporters’ charity Level Playing Field for nearly 10 years, and founder and former managing director of Centre for Access to Football in Europe.

As chair of Level Playing Field, Cook played a significant role in highlighting the problem of poor access for disabled fans at sports stadiums, particularly among Premier League football clubs.

Cook (pictured), now chief member associations officer for football’s world governing body FIFA, said: “It’s a very proud moment for me and my loved ones.

“The World Health Organisation considers more than 20 per cent of the global population to be disabled, yet there are very few disabled people in senior positions at this time, especially in the sports sector.

“The award recognizes the work I’ve been involved in for more than 15 years, but it also underlines the important work still being pursued by Centre for Access to Football in Europe and Level Playing Field.

“As a disabled person working for FIFA, and a member of the senior management board, I have a responsibility as a role model and I’m proud that FIFA is showing its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“I hope that I can continue to play my part in the years ahead by using my personal and professional experiences within FIFA to continue to build more inclusive programmes and to ensure that football is truly welcoming to the many disabled people globally who aspire to be match-going fans, players or to follow careers within the game.”

Other honours for disabled people included an MBE for autistic rights campaigner Carly Jones, for services to autistic people.

Jones, who is autistic herself and has two autistic daughters, has campaigned in the UK and globally on autism and girls, having been told 10 years ago that it was “impossible” to have two autistic daughters.

She said the award showed “firmly and publicly” that “as British autistics we are valued, we are recognised and we are able”.

She added: “I hope that as not only a parent of autistic young women but also [as]an autistic woman myself, my MBE sends out a clear message that regardless of our challenges and differences [we]have something to offer our country of tremendous value.”

She said she hoped more adult women would “feel less afraid to disclose their autism to friends, colleagues and families so they can find other autistic women and feel less isolation”, while any young girl recently diagnosed would now “feel empowered by their diagnosis, not ashamed”.

Jones, from Berkshire, dedicated her MBE to “the autistic community old and young, who, despite having experienced misunderstanding and unkindness remain understanding and kind”.

In 2016, she told the UN Human Rights Council’s annual Social Forum in Geneva of the “clinical misogyny” and “misjudgements” that have led to autism being viewed as something that only affects white males, and of the violence and abuse experienced by autistic people.

Another MBE recipient – for services to disabled people – was Grant Douglas, from Edinburgh, the inventor of the S’up spoon, and founder and chief executive of S’up Products.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be recognised for the work I have been doing to enable people with shaky hands to eat independently.”

Douglas, who has cerebral palsy, found it difficult to eat soft foods with a spoon and worked with the Glasgow-based company 4c Design to invent the S’up spoon, which has a deep cavity that helps keep food in the spoon until it is tipped into the user’s mouth.

Since the spoon was launched in 2015, more than 2,000 have been sold worldwide, and it is currently on display in London’s Design Museum and the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.

Douglas said he hoped to use his MBE to help persuade politicians to provide funding so all professionals involved in social care assessments have access to a S’up spoon for their service-users to try.

He also hopes to develop “more eating utensils that will help people with shaky hands live a more independent life”, and to convert his company into a social enterprise.

Also recognised with an MBE was Paralympian Stef Reid, who won her first world title in the T44 long jump at last summer’s World Para Athletics Championships in London, a year after winning a second successive Paralympic silver medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Reid was also a board member of the organising committee of the championships in London last summer, and has campaigned to challenge media perceptions of disability and how women feel about their bodies.

She said: “It had already been a great year, and this news left me completely stunned.

“I didn’t even believe it. My husband opened the letter and told me the news – I told him ‘don’t be silly, that’s ridiculous.’

“I am so thankful and honoured to be awarded an MBE. Sport has opened so many doors in my life and introduced me to some incredible people who have encouraged and challenged me. I am especially proud to represent a country that values para sport.”

Another Paralympian recognised with an MBE was Craig Carscadden, head of development at the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association, who receives the award for services to disabled athletes and the Paralympics.

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