What inspired you to get involved in politics?
I have had over thirty years of political experience. I became a district councillor in 1975, and stayed in that post for 19 years, overlapping with 20 years as a County Councillor and four year period as Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the County Council. I also spent three years as a parish councillor, was Chairman of the Essex Police Authority from 1994-1997, was Deputy Lieutenant for Essex in 1998, and was made an Alderman in 2006. I ran Disability Essex for more than a decade. In 2011 I was awarded an OBE.
I have had tinnitus since serving as radio operator in the merchant navy, and chronic heart disease following two heart attacks in the late 80s.
My first taste of politics came with delivering leaflets for the Liberal Party in the 1970s, which led to me standing for election as a local Councillor.
As a disabled person did you experience particular barriers or challenges and if so, how did you overcome them?
One barrier I faced as a Councillor was tiredness caused by County Council meetings finishing very late at night, which I tackled by ensuring I had sufficient sleep and a proper diet. My wife was very supportive.
What top tips would you give to other disabled people thinking of standing in elections?
My top tip for disabled people thinking of standing in elections is to be positive and not be put off by the barriers you will face: see these challenges as one of the many one has to face in life.
Would the Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund be something you would consider using? How might it help you in the election process?
I am now semi-retired after 30 years as an elected member of local authorities and have passed my half century as a member of the Liberal Party, so I do not feel I need to use the Fund myself. However, I hope the Fund will encourage others who are at the start of their career in politics or who want to be re-elected.