News & Features

Dr Adrian V Stokes OBE Tribute

Posted in General News on Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

It is with great sadness that we announce the President of Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK), Dr Adrian V Stokes OBE passed away on Tuesday 7th April 2020.

Dr Adrian V Stokes OBE served on the DMUK board of trustees and one of its predecessors, Disabled Drivers’ Motor Club, for 50 years before stepping down from the board in 2018. He held all executive positions during his time on the board which include, Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer. After stepping down from the board he was appointed President of DMUK. He was disabled since birth due to spina bifida and dedicated much of his life supporting organisations for disabled people; he was also a Founder Governor of Motability, amongst others. In 1983 he was awarded the OBE for services to disabled people.

Adrian worked as a freelance IT and healthcare consultant and also obtained a First-Class Honours degree in Law and a Postgraduate Certificate in Commercial Mediation.  He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Hertfordshire in 1994 and served as a Governor and a member of the Court of the University.

His background was in academia and the NHS, with expertise in telecommunications, computer networks and health informatics. He was recognised as one of the founders of the internet. In 1973, whilst a research assistant at the Institute of Computer Science, University College London, Adrian was involved with a research team who were working on ARPANET, the experimental computer network of the United States Department of Defense. ARPANET became the Internet in the mid-1970s, and one of Adrian’s responsibilities was the implementation of email in the UK.

He took early retirement from the NHS Centre for Information Technology (where he was Director) in 2000 and then held a number of Non-Executive Director positions in NHS organisations.

Campaigning achievements

When Adrian first started driving the only government assistance was a small sum towards the cost of hand controls.  An alternative was that the government would supply a blue “trike” with all costs except fuel covered.  However, passengers were not allowed in “trikes” and there were serious concerns about their safety.

Sometime later, the conversion grant was replaced by the Private Car Allowance, a sum of £100 a year.  While this helped towards the costs of running a vehicle, it was totally inadequate to enable a vehicle to be bought. 

Around the same time, there was a major campaign by Disabled Drivers Motor Club and the Disabled Drivers Association, in conjunction with the Haemophilia Society, to persuade the government to provide small cars as an alternative to the trike.  Although the costs of a Mini and a trike were very similar, the Government’s problem was that many more people would opt for a Mini and so the overall costs of this provision would be far greater. 

In the early 1970s the government announced that “trikes” would be phased out and a cash allowance (“Mobility Allowance” (MobA)) given in its place. This was announced at £4 a week but, by the time it was introduced in 1976, was increased to £5 a week. Later in the 1970s Motability was created. It was originally intended that its major function would be the provision of advice but, by involving the four major clearing banks, it was possible for people to get a vehicle through Motability.

The Motability scheme has expanded greatly since then and there are currently over 600,000 Motability vehicles on the road with a total of over four million vehicles having been supplied.

Dr Adrian V Stokes OBE can be credited with doing his bit in the formation of this vital scheme which now so many disabled people rely on.

Work still to do

During Adrian’s time of service on the DMUK board the UK has seen many achievements in the advancement of access and inclusion for disabled people. However, even when he stepped down from the board in 2018 he was still very passionate about the work that still needed to be done. When he stepped down from the board he wrote in his retrospective which looked back at his work with DMUK, he said:

“The environment for disabled motorists is becoming progressively more difficult with schemes to reduce dependence on cars. Many disabled motorists are completely reliant on their own vehicle for personal independent mobility and find it difficult, if not impossible, to use public transport.

DMUK’s predecessors fought many campaigns to ensure the continued mobility of disabled motorists. The first of these was in the 1930s when it was suggested that disabled people should not be allowed to drive at all. After DDMC mounted a major campaign, it was agreed that the criterion for whether a disabled person could drive was exactly the same as for a non-disabled person, namely the ability to pass a driving test. DDA and DDMC were instrumental in improving benefits and the introduction of the Motability scheme. Looking back, it might seem as if the major campaigns have been won and there is no need for an organisation such as DMUK. However, as is clear from the previous paragraph, there is still very much to do and it is DMUK’s responsibility to campaign for the rights of disabled motorists, as it has been doing for nearly a hundred years.

May I end by saying that my involvement with DDMC/DMUK over fifty years has been extremely rewarding in what we’ve been able to achieve. I have enjoyed the work I have done and the friends I have made over that time. I believe that the organisation is “fit for purpose” for the future and look forward to reading about its achievements.”

Graham Footer, CEO of DMUK, said: “Adrian dedicated so much of his time and energy to DMUK over many years and his influence on the charity is evident everywhere. His knowledge, passion and commitment to the organisation was an inspiration to his fellow Board members and staff alike. He took over as Chairman at a difficult time for the charity, but set about turning it around and getting it in shape. He was quite simply an outstanding Chairman of DMUK and fully deserved to be President of the organisation when he stepped down. As President he continued to take interest in the charity and was in regular contact right to the end of his life. He will be truly missed by us all.”

There is still much for DMUK to achieve including campaigns on improving Blue Badge enforcement and the Disabled Parking Accreditation (DPA) to drive up accessibility standards in the parking industry. Adrian was Chairman of the organisation when the DPA was launched in 2015. This initiative had his full support and the best way we can honour his memory is to continue to campaign on behalf of disabled motorists so their voice is heard.

We thank him for and celebrate the contributions he has made to the advancement and inclusion of disabled people in society. Dr Adrian V Stokes OBE has most likely touched your life in some way without you perhaps knowing. He will be deeply missed by all those that knew him.

 

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