During our interview with Brian, we were struck by his quiet, almost humble nature. How is then, that he has managed to achieve so much for the Essex disabled community.
Born in Woodford Green in 1945 and brought up in North Chingford, Brian is married with three sons. Since 1974, Brian has lived in the Great Baddow area of Essex where he has become a pillar of the community.
Starting as a police officer in the London Metropolitan Police Force in the 60’s, Brian then changed career and had a very successful period in sales and marketing.
In the early 90’s, Brian became disabled and it shocked him to the core. At the time, he couldn't understand what his role in society was and truly thought life had changed for the worst. He went through what he described as a ‘mourning process’ for the life he had experienced before he became disabled.
Strength and determination have driven Brian, helping him achieve so much. He has become a steadfast campaigner and a well-respected person in the disabled and non-disabled community alike.
To illustrate just some of the work Brian does, his current roles include:
Chair Chelmsford CVS; Chair OIL Transport Committee at Essex County Council; Co-chair PNF (Participation Network Forum); Co-chair PIPG (Physically Impaired Planning Group); President SVP Chelmsford/Great Baddow conference, visiting the sick, lonely and vulnerable, often helping them financially. These are people within the parish of Great Baddow; School Governor Larkrise Primary School, Great Baddow; Lead on Equality & Diversity, anti-bullying and community cohesion for Essex County Council; Member CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) for Hate Crime Scrutiny Committee for Essex and Suffolk; Mentor to young disabled people.
Brian is particularly passionate about working with PCT/Health Trusts in relation to social care and health, helping all concerned to work in transparent partnership using the social model of disability and its principles related to independent living. Brian says ‘These are difficult times and we need to ensure that even though there are cuts, we must all adhere to the above principles.’
Brian is quite honest that the route he has chosen has not always been easy. He has been the victim of stereotyping, discrimination and has been patronised by some, but this has only made him work harder to achieve his goals.
‘In Essex, the relationship between Essex County Council and Social Care is robust in the best sense of the word,’ says Brian. ‘In the beginning I believe, it was led by a human rights based approach during the mid-90’s by Essex Coalition of Disabled People I am proud to have played a significant part in that. We have a lot to lose if we are not vigilant!’
Brian's achievements show us that his MBE is more than well deserved, yet he tells Dancing Giraffe: ‘I still feel overwhelmed and humbled; I don’t do what I do for rewards or recognition. Knowing that my peers put me up for the MBE together with the local authority and other members of my groups makes it really special for me.’
All the team at Dancing Giraffe would like to say a huge ‘Congratulations Brian - you truly deserve it.’