Rights campaigners honoured in new year list


A disability rights campaigner who has spent nearly 40 years promoting the social model of disability is among disabled people recognised in the new year honours list.

Social worker David Halpin who receives an MBE, worked with Manchester Coalition of Disabled People and other groups in the 1970s to persuade council managers to implement the social model.

Now, as coordinator of Lancashire County Council’s ageing population strategy, Halpin is encouraging disabled people to become role models to younger people in their local community.

Halpin, who said he was “completely shocked” to be honoured, added: “I have taken the social model wherever I have worked to try and bring it to life.”

Diane Mulligan was recognised with an OBE for nearly 20 years work with disabled people in developing countries and in the UK.

A former director of the charity VSO in Indonesia, she set up the Sussex Amputee Support Group, is a disability and social inclusion advisor for the development charity Sightsavers and is a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s disability committee.

She said: “It is a great honour to have such formal recognition for all the work I love so much, but most of all the award reflects all the support and mentoring that many people have given to me in order to further disability rights and equal opportunities.”

David Constantine, who receives an MBE, co-founded Motivation, which empowers people with mobility impairments in developing countries, and designs and provides them with suitable wheelchairs.

David Butler receives an MBE for services to disability sport, after campaigning for 40 years for disabled people to have the right to compete in motor sports.

Because of his impairment, Butler was refused a licence to race 14 times by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) before finally winning the right to race.

Butler has chaired the British Motor Sports Association for the Disabled for 15 years, and now sits on the MSA’s medical panel, which decides whether other disabled drivers can be granted racing licences.

There is also an MBE for singer-songwriter Pino Frumiento, who helped found the disability arts organisation Heart n Soul 25 years ago and has toured internationally and become a role model to other artists with learning difficulties.

He said he was “really surprised” when he heard about the MBE and now feels “very proud”.

He said: “I never thought when I started out all those years ago that something like this could happen to me.

“I hope this will inspire other people with learning disabilities to go for it and follow their dreams. You never know what’s around the corner.”

Heart n Soul produces music, clubs, live art, dance and films by more than 100 artists with learning difficulties. Its director and co-founder Mark Williams also receives an MBE.

Lilian Baker, who receives an MBE, set up Advocacy in Wirral 17 years ago with other mental health service-users, and is still its chair. Her organisation now employs 50 people.

Linda Hoggarth, who chairs Optua, the user-led disability charity she co-founded in Suffolk in 1981 and which now employs 290 people, also receives an MBE.

She said: “Although the honour comes to me, it is recognition of the huge contribution Optua has made to the lives of disabled people in Suffolk.”

Bill Gray, a long-standing member of Fife Independent Disability Network, receives an MBE for services to diversity and disability training in Scotland.

There is also an MBE for Philip Mason, who has been promoting the idea of independent living in Hampshire for more than 30 years.

He said: “Although one person gets the award, it is really for the work of a lot of people. I am just one of many.”

Grassroots campaigner Robert Brown, who chairs a community residents’ forum in Brighton, also receives an MBE, as does Paul Willgoss, who chairs the Health and Safety Executive’s disability network. Willgoss has a heart condition, and has undertaken a series of physical challenges to raise funds and awareness of medical treatments.

5 January 2010

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