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24 September 2014
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06.02.03

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Stephen Hawking voted Greatest Disabled Briton in BBC poll


Professor Stephen Hawking, the scientist, has been voted Britain's Greatest Disabled Person in an online poll by Ouch, the BBC's website which reflects life as a disabled person.


Professor Hawking has captured the popular imagination for many years, shedding light on the mysteries of the universe.


He said: "I'm very pleased to receive this acknowledgment from Ouch readers."


Nominations were made by the public last year for the greatest disabled Briton, and votes have since been cast on a shortlisted top ten.


Maria Eagle, Minister for Disabled People said: "Stephen Hawking and Ian Dury would figure high on many people's list of greatest Britons.


"The public's choices for Greatest Disabled Briton show that disability is certainly no barrier to greatness. In fact, in a lot of cases it acts as a spur. There's a lesson to be learnt here that disabled people have as much - if not more - to offer society as anyone else."


The remaining nine in the poll came in the following order:


Ian Dury (28.6 per cent of the vote), who combined rock 'n' roll, humour, wit and a stage presence that did not deny his disability. In fact, strutting around stage with a stick, he confidently used disability as part of his stage act.


Tanni Grey-Thompson (9.1 per cent), who has won fourteen paralympic medals including nine golds, and has broken over twenty world records. As a wheelchair athlete she was also the winner of five London marathons - in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2001.


Douglas Bader (7.5 per cent), who famously overcame losing both legs in an accident to pursue a career with the RAF.


Sir Winston Churchill (3.8 per cent), who experienced depression for most of his life but particularly in his later years. Famously he came to call these dark moods his "black dog".


Joint sixth were David Blunkett (3.6 per cent), Home Secretary, and Britain's most famous guide dog owner, and Mike Oliver (3.6 per cent), who, as Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Greenwich, has produced books and papers that set out the social model of disability - the idea that it is society which disables disabled people.


Lord Byron (3.5 per cent), Britain's great romantic who was "mad, bad and dangerous to know", was also born with talipes, or a club foot.


Lord Nelson (3.3 per cent), who was going ashore in Corsica following the fall of Toulon, when a French shot flung debris into his face leaving him without sight in his right eye.


King George VI (1.4 per cent), who was arguably Britain's most famous stammerer.


More information on the poll is available at www.bbc.co.uk/ouch, the BBC's website that reflects life as a disabled person.


Notes to Editors


Ouch is a site about life, living, creativity, community, humour and the wider view of life as a disabled person.


Its main aim is to reflect experiences, thoughts and give alternative slants on all things, big and small, that are important to disabled people, and is aimed at everyone.


Other quotes regarding the poll:


"Ian Dury remains our most famous disabled musician, Stephen Hawking our most famous scientist and Tanni our most famous sports person. Not taking anything away from them, their replacements are long overdue." - Mat Fraser, disabled actor who starred in Sealo the Seal Boy, Metrosexuality, Urban Myth, Born Freak and Virgin Mobile adverts.


"Good call! I've never understood a word of what Hawking says but he's a great achiever and has always been happy to talk about disability without backing away. Where is Blind Jack of Knaresborough? Not much historical perspective here like having Diana on the Great Britons list. I tremble to think what Disability Studies academic Mike Oliver feels about tying with David Blunkett!" - Peter White, the BBC's Disability Affairs Correspondent.


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