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Sir Herbert William Massie: 31st March 1949 - 15th October 2017

Posted in General News on Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Sir Herbert William Massie, better known as Bert Massie, sadly passed away on Sunday the 15th October, he was one of Britain’s hardest working disability rights campaigners.  He started focusing his energy on improving the lives of disabled people at a young age. When he was 16 years old Bert was told by a careers advisor that because he was a wheelchair user he was not employable. It was this cold dismissal of his talents that made him determined to change the way society viewed disabled people. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to have much success as a campaigner without any academic qualifications, and feeling completely let down by the education system, he sort private tuition to pass his O-Levels from nuns involved with the Association of Disabled People in Liverpool. Once he had these under his belt he would go on to gain three A-levels, and after displaying a staggering amount of dedication and hard work he was awarded a postgraduate degree in social work from Manchester University.

With his qualifications behind him, Bert could set about his aim of improving the lives of disabled people. Bert’s campaigning career hit full stride in the late 1970s when he joined the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR). Bert would serve as the Chief Executive of this association for nine years, between 1990 and 1999. During this time, Bert played a pivotal role in introducing the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, now known as the Equality Act 2010, this legislation means that it is against the law to discriminate against people on the grounds of their disability in relation to employment, education, transport and the provision of goods and services. The act was amended and developed a number of times over the years and as Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission (DRC), a body that was formed soon after the act was announced, Bert Massie commented: “There isn’t a single job that a disabled person could not do.” One of Bert Massie’s main concerns throughout his career as a disability rights campaigner was trying to ensure that disabled people would be able to access the goods and services they needed. He devoted a great deal of time and effort to pressurising government bodies into making sure that public transport and new buildings were accessible for disabled people. In keeping with this focus, Bert served as a Governor of Motability and later on, Commissioner of The Compact. The Compact is a campaigning body set up to improve the level of corporation between the government and the voluntary sector.

In recognition of his fantastic work as a campaigner, Bert Massie was knighted in 2007 for services to disabled people. Bert did so much for disabled people throughout his lifetime and we are proud to say that he became a member of the Disabled Drivers Association (DDA) in 1983 and he continued to support DMUK as a member of the charity until he unfortunately passed away. He will be sadly missed by all who met him and by the disabled community as a whole who he fought so hard for.         

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