To mark UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, leading figures from across business, sport, politics, education, media, public and third sectors were yesterday named in this year’s Power 100 list, launched in London at the headquarters of Lloyds Banking Group.
Powerful Media, publishers of the Black Power and Future Leaders List, formed a partnership with Shaw Trust, an employment, learning and skills charity, to highlight the success of people with disabilities. Building on the positive recognition of the first ever Power 100 list last year, Shaw Trust and Powerful Media published a new version for 2016, following calls from the disabled community to continue the publication. The list celebrates British diversity and highlights 100 achievers with disabilities from across the UK.
CEO of the Muscle Help Foundation (MHF) and inspirational speaker Michael McGrath (pictured left at the event with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE DL), was delighted to have been featured for his charity’s tireless work delivering life changing, highly-personalised experiences, called ‘Muscle Dreams’, for children and young people across the UK who suffer with Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and allied neuromuscular conditions.
Michael McGrath said: “Whilst I am very proud to have been recognised in this way for the work carried out by the Muscle Help Foundation, I look forward to the day when a Power 100 list is no longer required because inclusion is simply a societal norm, a part of our cultural DNA. Perhaps utopia but for now, it’s my hope that as role models, we have an important responsibility not only to inspire tomorrow’s young people and lead by example, but also to make a commitment in helping others travel their own journey to achieve success.”
The driving force behind MHF, a multi-award winning charity, Michael has also built up a reputation as one of the UK’s leading inspirational speakers. He was diagnosed with MD in 1984, aged just 18. Twenty years later, he made history, becoming the first disabled person to lead expeditions to both the North and South Poles. These adventures inspired a new life plan and MHF was born.
From ‘Muscle Dreams’ such as interviewing Al Pacino to meeting the England football team, MHF’s vision is to offer hope, inspiration and empowerment to its beneficiaries and their families. Its impact and profile has gone from strength to strength under Michael’s leadership.
This year, MHF was named as the 2015 Official Team Charity of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Michael was invited by the Queen in 2004 to a reception at Buckingham Palace, in recognition of his ‘significant recent contribution to national life’. He was also a Paralympic Torch Bearer, an honour that preceded MHF’s flagship programme that saw 75 beneficiaries from across the country fulfill their dream of attending the London 2012 Paralympic Games. As actor, director and MHF patron, Kenneth Branagh, says, “Michael is a phenomenon”.
Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People, spoke at the launch event and led the celebrations on the day.
The 2016 Power 100 top ten includes:
- Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE, DL (this year’s number 1 on the list): former legendary Paralympian wheelchair racer, Parliamentarian and highly respected television presenter.
- Alex Brooker (featured at number 2): high profile journalist and presenter, best known for his television work with Channel 4 and for fronting Scope’s ‘End the Awkward’ campaign.
- Ellie Simmonds, OBE (number 10): professional swimmer for Great Britain, world record holder and 4 times Paralympic Champion.
Ade Adepitan MBE, Chairman of the Power 100 judging panel, said: “I am committed to encouraging future generations of disabled people to aim for the very top in their chosen profession. It is important that we offer talented young disabled people equal opportunities to become the next Paralympic sports star or business leader. Power 100 is a celebration of British diversity and I was delighted to Chair this year’s judging panel.”
Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, said: “The Power 100 is a great way to celebrate the International Day of Disabled People. This list is full of powerful, inspirational figures from across the UK’s top industries, and highlights how many disabled people hold prominent and influential roles in our society. This is great news and I hope that their example will further change how people and businesses view disability. Over the last two years 339,000 more disabled people have found work, and I want to use the Power 100 to continue showcasing disabled talent and achieve our goal of halving the disability employment gap.”
Chief Executive of Shaw Trust, Roy O’Shaughnessy, said: “The launch of Power 100 2016 is an important opportunity to recognise the achievements of disabled people across Britain. Shaw Trust is privileged to sponsor the publication for a second year and we hope it inspires more young disabled people to realise their full potential. Society has a shared responsibility to help eradicate social exclusion and break down traditional barriers holding disabled people back from achieving their life goals. Power 100 drives home the message that aspiration and ambition can increasingly be without limits for all abilities and backgrounds.”
Power 100 complements the aims of UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Shaw Trust is the main sponsor of the list. Members of the public were invited to nominate people to be included in the list and Shaw Trust, working with an independent judging panel, chaired by Ade Adepitan MBE, the renowned Paralympian, wheelchair basketball player and television presenter, selected the final 100. Shaw Trust believe it is important that society works together to promote the rights and wellbeing of disabled people.