A Victim to be Pitied or a Hero to be Celebrated? – MP Delivers Inaugural Christine Brebner Memorial Lecture

MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg, was delighted to deliver Shopmobility Aberdeen’s inaugural Christine Brebner Memorial Lecture today at Cineworld in Union Square.

The lecture marked the United Nation’s International Day for Persons with Disabilities and celebrated the achievements of people with disabilities. Named after one of their co-founders, Christine Brebner, she was the first Chairperson of Shopmobility in 1992 and developed the charity from just a few dozen customers to what, is now a major charity with over 4,000 regular users. 

As one of the Patrons of the National Federation of Shopmobility, Dame Anne took the opportunity to speak about the determination a person with disabilities needs to overcome the barriers in their way to succeed. She also highlighted the prevalent contradictory view of disabled people – the victim to be pitied or the hero to be celebrated.

Dame Anne praised Shopmobility saying: “It was such a liberation the first time I used an electric wheelchair from Shopmobility to do my Christmas shopping.  I could do it at my own pace – and on my own!” 

She also highlighted: “When I think back to what life was like 30 years ago when I began to use a wheelchair full time, few public buildings were accessible to a wheelchair and the wheelchair access to the ones which were was round the back beside the bins.  There certainly wasn’t a disabled toilet in the average pub or restaurant, even if you could get in the front door.  And there was no Shopmobility.

“I couldn’t go out anywhere without first checking the accessibility, and often couldn’t go.  Now I make the assumption the venue I am going to will be accessible.

“We have come a long way in the past 30 years.  But this hasn’t happened by accident.  And if we take our eye off the equality ball, we may find someone has kicked it away.

“It is up to the next generation of people with disabilities to take up the fight, to make the demands, to challenge attitudes.  And for that, they will need to be like Christine Brebner – determined and inspiring to others.”