Big Brother winner backs South Bank's This-Ability aims

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 24 Nov 2017

BUSINESSES in northern Lincolnshire have been urged to give people with disabilities the best possible opportunities, after hearing amazing case studies of achievement over adversity.

Original Big Brother winner Craig Philips was the special guest, having himself over come dyslexia to build a successful business prior to his time in one of the world’s most famous houses. 

And the practicalities of such a stance was also highlighted by Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin, who hosted the event at Scunthorpe United’s Glanford Park.

It was one of several This-Ability sessions held nationwide, urging an open mind to great potential, backed up with support and actions to enable ease of working.

Welcoming all comers to a strong breakfast event, Mr Dakin said: “I know going round businesses in the area, most people locally are pretty committed to getting the best out of their people. 

“As we find we are pretty close to full employment, we need to tap into the skills of those who aren’t in employment, and some of these people have disabilities.”

Guests listen to the speakers

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While Mr Philips’ tale of achievement from butcher’s boy to construction leader, then via the TV exposure to healthcare champion and philanthropist, had the audience enthralled, it was New Waltham businessman Andy Green who stole the show. The web and software developer has cerebral palsy, having been starved of oxygen for eight minutes at birth. 

Just standing up and speaking in front of an audience was defying medical experts who battled to save his life.

He said: “Some people struggle to understand the way I talk, and some people still talk down to me like a two-year-old, not the MD of a company. I am still not the fastest typer in he world and I struggle to use a traditional computer mouse, I even struggle with buttons and brushing my teeth – two important things for any self-respecting businessman.

“They are all things I can learn and get better at. I find ways to get around this. I have taught myself all the keyboard shortcuts you can imagine! 

“I may not do things the same way as everyone else does them, but that doesn’t matter, the important thing is I do them and I do not let anything stop me achieving what I set out to achieve, and I give myself some pretty big goals, admittedly. 

Not only do I walk and talk, despite doctors’ predictions, I also teach PE lessons, I speak publicly and I move at 70mph.

That’s a bit of cheating, but in fairness, I passed my driving test five years ago in an unadopted automatic car with only one minor. I don’t think it is anything impressive. I may not do things the same way as other people do, but that’s fine.

“Everyone is different and that’s what makes us the same. A personal saying of mine is ‘winning is not about how many hurdles you jump, it is about how many times you get back up and try again.”  

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Following his speech, Mr Philips, said: “I think it is wonderful everyone pulling together like this. These systems, all joining up here, giving employers more support and tools to be able to help individuals who need that little bit of special education, special adaption or special assistance. I didn’t get that.”

Turning to Andy’s presentation, he said: “I can only imagine how difficult it was to learn the day-to-day things most of us do. What he has built up, socially and professionally, is amazing. It shows, whatever level of disability now, there is help and support and communities and businesses are starting to recognise and understand they can play a really good, strong role in it. 

“I want to support companies and individuals in any way I can by shouting about problems.”

For more information about This-Ability, visit www.this-ability.org.uk.

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