Rob Smith, from Leamington Spa, creator of Active Hands gripping aids was announced as one of the most influential people with a disability in the UK at a reception at the South Bank Centre this week.

The Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. More than 700 nominations were received for the 100 places. The Disability Power 100 List is compiled by an independent judging panel, chaired by Kate Nash OBE. Kate is the world’s leading authority in “Networkology” – the science behind the growth of workplace networks and resource groups. In 2007 she was awarded an OBE for services to disabled people. In 2013 she was appointed Ambassador to Disability Rights UK.

Rob Smith is a Director of the Active Hands Company and the designer of their gripping aids. He sustained a spinal cord injury in 1996 after a cliff fall, which left him with restricted lower body movement and unable to grip with his hands. The latter proved to be a source of great frustration. Rob took up wheelchair sport and needed to train in the gym to improve his performance. The lack of options available to allow him to grip weights lead to him designing the General Purpose gripping aid – Active Hands’ most popular item. Rob is now a competitive international wheelchair racer who, this year, won Gold in the IPC World cup T51/52 marathon race.

Active Hands is now regarded as the “go to” company for anyone with reduced hand function. It sells a wide range of products for those with various conditions and disabilities affecting hand function. The company exports their products all over the world and continues to grow by developing new products of its own and sourcing other innovative products from all over the world. The company manufactures in the UK and has won many design and business awards including Disabled Entrepreneur of the year and only last month a Department of International Trade Board of Trade award for exporting.

Rob Smith, said: “I am honoured to be included on the Shaw Trust Disability Power List. I hope that
seeing what those with a wide range of disabilities can accomplish will inspire young or newly injured people.”

Nick Bell, Interim Chief Executive of Shaw Trust – a charity helping to transform the lives of young people and adults across the UK and internationally, said: “Congratulations to Rob Smith. The judges were beyond impressed by the standard of nominations but selected the most influential people who are proving that disability or impairment is not a barrier to success. One of our aims for the Disability Power 100 list is to demonstrate to young people that they can achieve their ambitions. At Shaw Trust we work with government, local authorities and employers to support people overcome barriers which hold them back from achieving their potential.”

The full Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List can be found on:

About the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List

The Shaw Trust Power List is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. Since its inception four years ago, the publication has gone from strength to strength. Over the years it has allowed Shaw Trust to encourage businesses, employers and other organisations to reflect on opportunities available for disabled people. The list plays a vital role in providing much-needed encouragement to the young and talented leaders of tomorrow, allowing them to see that aspiration and ambition can be fulfilled regardless of disability or impairment.

For more information please visit:

About Shaw Trust

Shaw Trust is a charity helping to transform the lives of young people and adults across the UK and
internationally. Our specialist services help people gain an education, enter work, develop their career, improve their wellbeing or rebuild their lives. As a charity we add value to every service we deliver by investing back into the people and communities we support.

Shaw Trust is one of the largest 25 charities in the UK. Comprising Shaw Trust, Prospects, Ixion and
Shaw Education Trust, we use our 75 years’ combined experience to support people to develop their
potential. By joining together we are working to reach one goal: to help transform the lives of one million young people and adults each year.

Our 3,500 staff and 1,000 volunteers provide joined-up services for government, local authorities,
combined authorities, employers, stakeholders – including the Department for Work and Pensions,

Education and Skills Funding Agency, clinical commissioning groups and NHS Trusts – and individuals. Our work focuses on seven business areas:

  • Employability
  • Learning and skills
  • Justice
  • Children’s services
  • Education
  • Charitable services and enterprise
  • Community health and wellbeing

For more information please visit:

For Active Hands products please visit: