We look back at some of the moments that made 2017 an inspirational year.
Moving Transport Barriers
Doug Paulley from Wetherby won a landmark Supreme Court victory in January, following a dispute with a woman with a pushchair over wheelchair spaces on buses. Mr Paulley had attempted to board a bus operated by FirstGroup. Although the bus had a sign up saying: ‘Please give up this space if needed by a wheelchair user’ Mr Paulley was left at the stop after a woman with a sleeping baby in a pushchair refused to move out of the designated area, despite a request from the bus driver. The ruling in his favour means bus drivers now have a responsibility to do more to accommodate wheelchair users.
Turning the Lady
Following a fi erce reaction from disabled campaigners and the wider public, Theresa May performed a dramatic u-turn on her so called ‘Dementia Tax’ election manifesto promise, in late Spring. Proposals were watered down just four days after the release of the document. She initially insisted that there wasn’t a need to protect people against heavy care costs. After an apparent re-think Mrs May said that her party would pledge to introduce a cap on lifetime care costs.
The Power of Courage
Hannah Cockroft was born with cerebral palsy. Doctors said she would never be able to walk, talk or do anything for herself. As an infant, two cardiac arrests caused both brain and nerve damage, to her spine, legs and feet.
A mere 25 years later in July 2017 Cockroft became the world’s most successful female athlete at the Para World Championships, cruising to victory in the 100 metres wheelchair sprint, adding to her previous record performances in both 200 and 400 metre events.
A Beacon for Disabled Actors
The BBC announced its Class Act Development Programme to discover and help both up-and-coming and experienced disabled actors. As the August sun shone, they confi rmed everyone selected would be offered tuition in audition and camera technique, acting and business skills, alongside script and character work.
Celebrating the Campaigner
The world paid tribute to Sir Bert Massie who passed away in October. Massie dedicated his life to the service of disabled people, helping to secure civil rights for them through the first Disability Discrimination Act in 1995. A determined campaigner, he also served on the National Disability Council, the Disability Rights Task Force, and the Independent Commission on Social Justice.
Strutting His Stuff
Athlete, Jonnie Peacock who won gold in the 100m sprint at both the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, made history as the fi rst disabled contestant to appear on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. Ever charismatic, he was the eighth celebrity to be voted off the show in the 2017 competition, along with partner, Oti Mabuse.
In early Autumn Jonnie scored 29 points for a blistering jive with his golden prosthetic in full view, winning the appreciation of millions of viewers. He explained: “I wanted to show everyone there is ability in disability, and if you put your mind to it, and work hard, anything is possible.”
Rowing to Invictus Glory
Toronto hosted the third Invictus Games in September, where the British team secured an incredible 10 medals in the indoor rowing event. Tye Martin landed gold in the Men’s IR 4 category one minute event, and silver in the four minute version. He was joined by Mark Ormrod who won silver in both the one and four minute IR 1 category events. There were also medals for Bruce Matthews, Ian Ronald, Scott Meenagh and Lamin Manneh www.invictusgamesfoundation.org
A Note For The Future
September saw a new £10 note celebrating Jane Austen issued by The Bank of England. Its design elements included raised Braille lettering and bold numbers. The clustered bold dots in the top left corner help make clear the note’s denomination, paving the way for further additions in future.
Parallel Lines for the Ambassador
Martyn Sibley celebrated his birthday back in September by taking on an ambassadorial role for Parallel London, having accepted the invitation earlier in the year. The annual inclusive participation challenge was one of 2017’s biggest disability events.
As a media activist, author, public speaker, business owner and adventurer, who lives with spinal muscular atrophy, Sibley has been named as the UK’s third most influential disabled person by the Power 100 List.
Diary of An App
South London app developer, Hannah Chamberlain, won the prestigious £30,000 Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs, run in conjunction with Leonard Cheshire Disability, in November. She landed the prize for her video diary app, ‘Mental Snapp’, created to help people pro-actively manage their mental health.
The app enables individuals to record their thoughts on video, rate their mood and name their feelings. A new version of Mental Snapp will be launched in 2018.
Look out for more inspirational moments this year, starting with Disabled Access Day in March followed swiftly by the Winter Paralympics. As for the rest of the year, who knows? It’s down to all of us to create great things and great moments. There’s not a moment to lose!