Posts

My friend James Partridge – Born 30 October 1952; died 16 August 2020

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I haven’t put my fingers to computer keys to write a blog post for a very long time but the death of my dear friend James Partridge has persuaded me to write so that I can share some memories of him. I think he would appreciate my efforts as he knew how difficult I find the act of writing. He always said in his typically encouraging way “Come on Mr Friend you can do this”. So here goes. What an extraordinary human being James Partridge was, he lit up every room he entered. Often arriving at meetings wearing bicycle clips, crash helmet slightly akimbo,  breathless, sweaty but always smiling. Once out of his cycling gear, he offered a big powerful handshake which was always accompanied by a brilliant smile and then the inevitable booming laugh. James Partridge is in the building and ready for the fray. He was an unforgettable human being and strangely it wasn’t his “memorable” appearance but rather the huge presence that made him stand out.  I watched him once climb onto a stage in front

Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos

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Hello everyone just a quick note to let you know that I’m planning to develop a new podcast in which I interview disabled people about the things they use to overcome the barriers they face because of their disability. I’ll keep you posted as to when this will become available.

Unmasking the Pimpernel

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We seek him here, we seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere! Is he in heaven? Is he in hell? Where is that damned elusive Pimpernel! Many of you will recall these famous lines from the play and novel “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. You may remember the Scarlet Pimpernel worked in the dark; his identity was only known to a few loyal supporters under a cloak of secrecy. I’m struck by the similarities between the Pimpernel’s behaviour and the response of today’s senior business leaders towards disability. Business leaders who are themselves disabled keep quiet and this often leads to a feeling that it’s a taboo subject. Disability lurks in the shadows and those employees who have non-visible impairments only tell trusted colleagues or friends. Very Pimpernelesque! A recent report  Disability Confidence: The Business Leadership Imperative’  supported by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) has found that business leaders with disabilities are twice as likely to be underrepresented in comp

Aches, Pains and Appliances

 The other day as I was shaving I remembered my mother, this often happens. I’m not sure why the act of shaving invokes these memories, but it usually does. My mother died back in 2001; it was a good death. She was lying in bed and asked her devoted carer, Chrissie, for a cup of tea, and when Chrissie returned with it, she had departed this life. I recall that whenever I visited my mother particularly towards the end of her life, the first half-an-hour of our conversation was spent in cataloguing and discussing her ailments, aches, pains, and other trials and tribulations. She would sit in her velour covered armchair in her flannelette nightie with her nasal cannula in place and hold court. It was impossible to move her off health topics until she had exhausted every possible nook and cranny. These memories were in part awakened because of a recent weekend I spent in rural Yorkshire with some good friends all of whom are now in their 60s and 70s. We all arrived at our host’s lovely

To travel or not to travel that is the question.

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 How many of you reading this think about the cutlery you might use when you go out for a meal? The chances are you’ll be much more interested in the menu, the prices, the people you’re eating with and the restaurant’s ambience. A similar situation arises when considering going to the seaside on a gloriously hot summer’s afternoon. If you’re fastidious, you’ll check your car tyres, the oil ,  you’ll fill up the windscreen washer bottle, and you’ll make a list of things to take that will make the trip more enjoyable. I doubt that you’ll  think to  check on the availability of toilet facilities at motorway services on route or at your destination!   For many disabled people, particularly those with severe  or complex  mobility impairments, the exact opposite applies. The availability of appropriate toilet facilities will be uppermost in their minds, and the lack of certainty about whether the necessary facilities are available may be enough to prevent the trip to the restaurant or  t

Motability Scheme under threat

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  As you may be aware, The Daily Mail (5th February and 18th February) published articles accusing Motability of “hoarding £2.4 billion and paying its boss £1.7 million” here’s a link to the article  http://dailym.ai/2Cp2jUF  and  http://dailym.ai/2CpQbT2 . Both Motability and Motability Operations have now published letters setting out clarifications of some of the accusations made in the debate, and these are on their websites  http://bit.ly/2HBmYZv Following this coverage, a parliamentary select committee initiated by Esther McVey, formerly the Minister for Disabled People and now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is to undertake an “investigation”.  Frank Field MP will chair the committee.   I’d like to spend a moment or two remembering the Motability journey if you’ll pardon the pun. I remember the days of the infamous three-wheeled invalid carriage and the feeling of being treated like a second-class citizen regarding personal transport, travel and independence.  Buse

What price do you put on a human life?

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Since I last wrote, we’ve had the Manchester bombing, the London and Westminster Bridge killings, a general election and most recently the fatal attack on Muslims in Finsbury Park and the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower. There has been much soul-searching over the murderous terrorist atrocities which killed and permanently disabled so many innocent people in London and Manchester. Were they preventable? Could more have been done to avert them? Sadly the conclusion seems to be that it is almost impossible to stop murderous individuals from blowing themselves up, running people over after hiring a truck or running amuck with knives. Nevertheless, the government will speedily invest millions of pounds in anti-terrorism measures and rapidly deploy new legislation to counter the perceived threat. But what about the response to the tragedy of Grenfell Tower and the needless loss of so many innocent lives? It is beginning to look like this horror was largely preventable, and the warnings