Giant disability exhibition gets £10k boost in 30th anniversary year 

The world’s largest not for profit voluntary-led disability exhibition has been given a £10,000 boost by the Steve Morgan Foundation and the Cheshire Community Foundation to help mark its 30th anniversary.

Disability Awareness Day (DAD) was set up by the Warrington Disability Partnership (WDP), which has been supporting disabled people and people living with long-term health conditions for three decades.

Last year’s event was switched online because of Covid-19 but organisers are predicting over 200 exhibitors, equipment suppliers and representatives from the transport, holiday, leisure and employment sectors will attend this year’s exhibition on September 12.

The Steve Morgan Foundation and the Cheshire Community Foundation have both given the organisers of this year’s event £5,000, which will help provide free exhibition stands for charities and voluntary groups at September’s Disability Awareness Day and contribute towards the running costs of the event.

Dave Thompson MBE DL, chief executive of Warrington Disability Partnership, said the grant would make a huge difference after a difficult time for the disabled community.

“Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19,” he said. “Seven members of our team have died because of Covid.

“That, together with our 30th anniversary, makes this year’s Disability Awareness Day so important. We promote a can-do culture, focusing on what disabled people can do throughout their lives rather than what they can’t.

“The pandemic has really impacted on most charities ability to fundraise, which is why the support of the Steve Morgan Foundation and Cheshire Community Foundation is so important because it enables us to offer free exhibition stands.”

Dave launched the Warrington Disability Partnership in 1991 – two years after he broke his neck in an American Football accident.

The injury left him with tetraplegia, which is a form of paralysis that affects both arms and both legs and left Dave confined to a wheelchair.

After spending nine months in hospital he founded the Warrington Disability Partnership alongside Eric James and Alan Shaw to give information, advice and guidance to other disabled people.

“Back then you didn’t have the internet so you couldn’t just Google something so you felt really isolated,” he said. “83 per cent of disabled people acquire their disability during their working life.”

Today the charity employs 50 paid for staff, an army of 230 volunteers and helps thousands of people across the North West and beyond.

Dave said this year’ Disability Awareness Day promised to be extra special.

“As well as being our 30th anniversary event it’s really important after the last 18 months we’ve had because of Covid,” he said.

“Recent events have typically attracted over 24,000 attendees on the day. We have a tented village within the grounds of Walton Hall Gardens in Warrington and attract people from across the country.

“This year there will a sports area including scuba diving, an arts marquee, main arena and family entertainments. The event runs from 10am-4pm.”

Steve Morgan, of the Steve Morgan Foundation,  said: “30 years is a phenomenal achievement and given the pandemic, the Disability Awareness Day is more important than ever. We’re delighted to support it.”

To apply for a free exhibition space visit  www.disabilityawarenessday.org.uk and follow the Get Involved link or call Kate on 01925 240064.

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