The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is delighted to announce that the second Alf Morris Lecture will be given by Andrew Marr, journalist and TV presenter, and his wife, Guardian journalist Jackie Ashley. The lecture is being held on March 17th 2016 at the Shaw Theatre, London, and Andrew and Jackie will be discussing their experiences adapting to life after Marr’s stroke in 2013. This will be the first time they have publicly talked about their experiences, sharing their insights, views on rehabilitation and the need for better access to help and equipment.
Before marrying in 1987, Andrew and Jackie were aware of the principles of living with disability through the work of Jackie’s father, the late Lord Jack Ashley, MP for Stoke on Trent from 1966 to 1992 before sitting in the House of Lords. Following a routine ear operation in 1967 Jack Ashley became profoundly deaf but being tenacious and driven Jack, together with Alf Morris, spent years campaigning for disability rights, founding the all-party parliamentary disability group and the Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act. He was also instrumental in getting the Disability Discrimination Act that was passed in 1995.
Jackie commented: “Alf Morris and Jack Ashley dedicated their parliamentary careers to challenging the limitations imposed by society on people with disabilities. Both believed that practical help could be transformative, enriching not just individual lives but families and whole communities. The Alf Morris Lecture is just a part of their legacy and, with healthcare provision under increasing strain, we believe its message of empowerment through knowledge is more important than ever before.”
Andrew and Jackie will ‘interview’ one another at the Alf Morris Lecture. A warm, funny and very engaging couple to listen to, Jackie will initially reflect on her background and the work of her father, whilst Andrew’s reflections will focus more on regaining his independence. Discussing how his previous knowledge of independent living for people with disabilities contrasts with his own experience, they will share with the audience their problems in obtaining support and finding suitable equipment – things that should be readily available to all after a medical crisis.
Andrew and Jackie are well aware that, thanks to their ability to pay privately and their confidence to constantly pursue the necessary support and information, they are faring better than most. They are also well aware that change needs to be made, and they want to affect that change. Although complimentary about the NHS hospital care Andrew received, they are very open to making political points about insufficient funding for aftercare in the community and believe this should be available to help people rebuild their independence and quality of life.
Describing his stroke as similar to instant ageing, Andrew’s fresh insights into adjusting to sudden change focuses not only on adaptations for the home, but also on the ability to work and travel as well as relationships with family and friends. Andrew commented: “Every year, millions of British people, either disabled or older, suffer frustration, despair and pain because of relatively simple problems, which can be solved. The help and equipment is all around them: but they do not know how or where to obtain it.
“This is an enormously under-reported, national problem. It does not require brilliant new scientific advances, just practical, joined-up help to transform numerous lives, which could be so much happier. We are coming together as a couple for the first time to speak at the forthcoming Alf Morris Lecture on our personal experiences and the need for expert impartial advice. We are doing this in part to express our support for the excellent work the DLF does in providing practical help to older and disabled people, their families, and carers”.
Attracting an audience that includes legislators, activists, professionals and healthcare industry representatives, the Alf Morris Lecture is fast becoming the leading annual event in the disability calendar due to being radical, inspirational and agenda-setting.
Launched by the Disabled Living Foundation, the Alf Morris Fund for Independent Living was set up to honour a man who made a difference to the most vulnerable members of society. This Fund will help people find out about the resources available to keep them independent, and to help them make choices. Its purpose echoes Alf’s vision, in his own words, “adding life to years” rather than just years to life
Ticket prices start at £25 with concessions available. Guests can attend a drinks reception before the lecture at 6.00pm, with a celebratory dinner afterwards at 8.15pm in the Pullman St Pancras Hotel. All monies raised are donated to the Alf Morris Fund for Independent Living.